A Tennessee vaccine official, Michelle Fiscus, purchased a dog muzzle in order to pretend that she was being threatened by anti-vaxxers. Fiscus fraudulently claimed that an anti-vaccine individual had mailed it to her in an attempt to intimidate her.
Fiscus even denied sending herself the muzzle in a tweet. She instead blamed Republican state officials, saying it was because she had sent out a memo on minors getting the Covid vaccine without parental consent. A health department official had called the Department of Safety about the alleged threat to Fiscus.
Fiscus and her husband, Brad, claimed in multiple interviews, including with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, that the muzzle was sent anonymously to her state office. “Someone wanted to send a message to tell her to stop talking, they thought it would be a threat to her,” Brad Fiscus told the Tennessean. Fiscus herself told investigators it was done to “stop [her] talking about vaccinating people”.
But the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security found through a subpoena that the package containing the muzzle could be traced back to a credit card in Fiscus’ name.
According to an investigation report obtained by Axios, when asked by investigators, Fiscus initially provided a different account than the one used to purchase the muzzle. But her attempt to hide the truth was soon uncovered. Investigators found out that “the results of this investigation [showed] that purchases from both Amazon accounts were charged to the same American Express credit card in the name of Dr. Michelle D. Fiscus”.
The health department meanwhile released a memo explaining that Fiscus had been fired for attempting to steer state money to a nonprofit she founded.
Fiscus denied the charges. “This is about a partisan issue around Covid vaccines and around people in power in Tennessee not believing in the importance in vaccinating the people, and so they terminated the person in charge of getting it done,” Fiscus told the Washington Post earlier.
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