JOPLIN, Mo. (PRWEB) February 27, 2018
Until a few days ago, I was President Trump’s Nominee to be the Director of the Indian Health Service. He tapped me to lead this agency, widely understood to be dysfunctional because I’ve spent the last decade of my life starting and operating successful businesses and creating jobs in Indian Country that improve Native Peoples’ access to health care.
I’m not a politician. Native American health and wellness are my passion and mission. That may in part explain how I was completely blindsided during the nomination process by someone's malicious actions. Unfortunately, my nomination was derailed after the public release, by someone in the government, of an unauthorized, “work-in-process” personal background draft document to one of our Tribal health organizations. They then sent this out to their entire list of members. Predictably, it made its way to the press, culminating in a savage but error-laden attack on my honesty, character and good name by various news outlets.
If the press had access to my authentic background or the confidential information I actually submitted, much of this would have been cleared up immediately. Unfortunately, this never happened. Additionally, some journalists were less than scrupulous in trying to find the whole truth.
I am now forced to walk away from a much-desired opportunity for public service. But before I go, I would at least like to put the truth on the record -- to rebut the false accusations against me, and to add some much-needed context to the half-true ones.
First, I’ve been accused of saying I have a college degree even though I don’t have one. This is simply untrue. I have never claimed or represented myself as obtaining a college degree. I don’t regret not finishing college, and it clearly didn’t hold me back from success.
The second accusation against me was that I padded my resume, overstating the role I played as a full–time employee at St. John’s Hospital from 1997-2004 and as PRN status, or on-call, until 2006. I started there in 1997, at the age of 19, as an entry-level weekend admissions clerk. I then became Patient Access Coordinator in 1999. My job description, signed by St. John’s CFO at the time, reads as follows:
“The Patient Access Coordinator is responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and performing activities of personnel engaged in the follow-up and collection of insurance portion of third-party claims and accounts provides technical advice and support to all Patient Access/Registrations staff, provides input to Manager indicated regarding operation aspects.”
This was a leadership role. By the way, this job description was signed, by two men quoted in the media. Tony Noronha didn’t remember me, which isn’t surprising considering it was 20 years ago and the hospital has over 2,000 employees. Robert Henderson was my director.
Numerous people can speak against those who have maligned me regarding the role I played at St. John’s. I have in fact, gathered statements from the hospital’s former COO, Dottie Bringle, from Dr. Renee Walker, a member of the medical executive team while I was there, and from Melissa Snyder, a former subordinate, all of whom can attest that I was working in a leadership role matching the description I gave. You can view their statements here: https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/part-ii-robert-weaver-given-confirmation-hearing/
As an aside, I never told HHS that all my documents were destroyed by the horrific 2011 Joplin tornado or that being a patient at an IHS hospital as a child qualified me to run the agency. While St. John’s Hospital, my office, and my home were destroyed in the storm, I was able to salvage some of my personal effects. (See the picture of my office immediately post-storm.) I do, however, find it reprehensible that some people quoted in the media made light of that tragedy.
The third accusation against me was that I hid my time as an employee of Herndon Snider & Associates because I left them in financial disarray and over a financial dispute. This is false on all three counts. My confirmation disclosures clearly state I worked at Herndon Snider & Associates from 2004-2008. The practice’s founder and namesake who said in the press he wouldn’t hire me again didn’t hire me in the first place, wasn’t the owner of the firm, wasn’t my boss, and wasn’t even another employee when I worked there. The actual owner gave me permission to sell insurance products on my own time while employed there. My first group client as an independent insurance producer was in fact, HSA.
With respect to my entire employment history, including my tenure at St. John’s Hospital and HSA, the FBI and the Office of Governmental Ethics did an extensive background check, and resulted in my receiving the “pre-clearance” designation in September 2017 that was essential to the nomination process proceeding. I thoroughly answered the questions contained in the extensive questionnaire from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
There were also questions regarding my personal finances that muddied the water around my nomination. I declared personal bankruptcy in 2001 at the age of 23 because I made some poor financial decisions in my late teens and early twenties. This happened before I got married, had four children, made millions of dollars, and started multiple businesses that have served the healthcare needs of some 16,000 Native Americans.
Two tax liens were filed against one of my businesses in 2010. This occurred because an employee concealed the fact that payroll taxes were not paid for three quarters. After discovery, this person was immediately dismissed, the tax payments addressed, and the liens lifted. The business itself was never in any financial trouble.
I was also alleged to have personally donated $500 per month from March through November of 2017 to the Make America Great Again Committee. I did this. It’s not a scandal; it’s free speech. I support President Trump, and I would do it again.
The allegations raised against me in the media are baseless, irrelevant, and in the most important cases simply incorrect. Congestion in the Senate confirmation process is well known and even the hint of controversy can be ruinous for any nominee. It certainly ended my bid to serve in government, but as a businessman and entrepreneur, I will continue to serve the public by improving native peoples’ health and wellness.
Meanwhile, it is my hope that someday Indian Country will be given a permanent Indian Health Service Director that the “swamp or deep state” of Washington will not manage to drown and that he or she will actually be able to get something done. Tribal leaders must be heard and real action taken to solve the healthcare crisis in Indian Country. In three years, IHS has had four different acting directors, and it will soon have a fifth. Indian Country deserves better and deserves it as soon as possible.
This is a continuation of the article published by Native News Online dated 2-24-18.
Part II, quotes and additional information on this topic can be read in a second article published by Native News Online dated 2-26-18.
Robert Weaver, President Trump’s former nominee to head the Indian Health Service, is founder and CEO of RWI Benefits, LLC. He can be contacted at rweaver(at)rwibenefits(dot)com