Chiro board dust-up goes to the FPPC

An attorney has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging conflict of interests and other misconduct by two employees of the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners (BCE).

The complaint filed on April 30 by chiropractic attorney Roger Calton claims Maggie Craw, chiropractic consultant to the board, sent freelance work from the board to a close friend who lived with her. Craw also reviewed her own work while serving at two different state agencies, the letter claims. It goes on to charge that the Board’s now-demoted executive director Catherine Hayes helped cover up this misconduct.

The Chiropractic Board has been in the news since a March 1 meeting that saw open warfare between some board staff and board members seen as allies of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This action has spilled over into the Legislature, where Democrats have been aggressively questioning Schwarzenegger’s board picks–and called on some of them to resign.

Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, has requested the board members to appear today at 1:30 for a hearing of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. According to an April 26 letter sent to board members, “the hearing is for the purpose of reviewing recent and prior actions of the Board relating to passage of a resolution supporting manipulation under anesthesia,” a practice considered controversial by some.

The FPPC complaint is merely the latest salvo in a war between Craw and chiropractors in the state. An international organization called the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) has been waging a campaign against Craw, calling for her dismissal at least since last November.

Calton’s complaint makes several allegations of “direct and severe conflict of interest” against Dr. Maggie Craw, the chiropractic consultant to the board.

Among these is a charge that she improperly referred work to a close friend whom she lived with, Jennifer Martin. The letter also claims that Craw improperly reviewed the same cases for both the Chiropractic Board and for the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), essentially reviewing her own work. The letter also names from board executive director Catherine Hayes for “aiding and abetting” Craw’s misconduct.

“If the Fair Political Practices Commission does investigate this complaint, we will certainly cooperate,” said Brian Stiger, and Department of Consumer Affairs manager who is currently acting executive director for the board.

The Capitol Weekly attempted to reach Craw at two numbers, including a number identified as her cell phone in board records.

Calton charges that in May 2004, “Dr. Craw reviewed and denied a claim for workers compensation benefits on behalf of SCIF.” Martin then filed a compliant against the chiropractor in question, Dr. Thomas Zorich, which Craw reviewed as a consultant to the board. Her complaint named two SCIF patients of Zorich’s, neither of whom even complained about him or authorized the release of their medical records to the Chiropractic Board, the letter alleges.

This decision was then submitted for further review to the Chiropractic Board, where Craw reviewed it again, signing off on her own work in a different capacity. In January of this year, then-executive director Catherine Hayes filed an official disciplinary action against Zorich, alleged “excessive treatment.”

“Dr. Zorich felt that there was a severe conflict of interests with Dr. Craw representing SCIF, determining whether the insurance company should pay claims, and then evaluating complaints relating to those same claims on behalf of the Board,” the letter states.

On May 24, 2004, Zorich sent a letter to the board alleging conflicts of interest by Craw. On June 9, 2004, Kim Smith, then the board’s executive director, replied “Dr. Craw is a half-time employee of the board, and pursues her own endeavors on her own time.”

On her Form 700 financial disclosure statement, Craw lists herself as the sole proprietor of a Sacramento radiology practice worth between $100,000 and $1 million. She lists SCIF as a client that pays her more than $10,000 a year to do radiology evaluation work of chiropractic cases.

A second letter of complaint was sent July 12, 2004, by Martin. This was followed by an August 4, 2004, letter from Craw to the board, recommending disciplinary action against Zorich.

In a November 2, 2005, deposition relating to another case, Craw said she refered “three or four” cases a year to Martin for review. A February 1999 grant deed transfer filed in Sacramento County shows that Craw added Martin to the deed of her East Sacramento house, a “gift” that resulted in them being “co-tenants.”

Calton goes on the allege the Craw’s hiring “has never been approved by a vote of the board.” He goes on to claim that one requirement of the chiropractic consultant position is that the person holding it have been a “practicing chiropractor” for five of the last seven years. According to a copy of Craw’s resume, her main business in the last nearly three decades has been examining x-rays for other chiropractors; she was last listed as a full-time, practicing chiropractor in 1979.

Several chiropractors have complained in the past about Craw and her alleged conflicts of interests. On January 8 of this year, Corte Madera chiropractor Donald Harte sent a letter to the board saying that Craw “and her co-conspirators on staff” are conducting a “long campaign of harassment against chiropractors.” Harte was named the World Chiropractic Alliance 2006 Chiropractor of the Year for his efforts fighting the Craw and the Chiropractic Board staff.

At the board meeting on August 10, 2006, WCA president Dr. Terry Rondberg and attorney Carlos Negrete testified that there have been many complaints about Craw by Alliance members. They went on to charge Craw with unduly trying to influence insurance investigations, as well as “reckless dissemination of confidential information, self-dealing, illegal activity.”

Calton goes on to say that Hayes covered up Craw’s misconduct. “Instead of taking action

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