Education and budget issues dominate GOP forum

Texas Senate candidate Ben Bius (left) waits for his turn during opening statements as Republican opponent Dr. Charles Schwertner addresses the 50 or so attending the B-CS Chamber of Commerce's annual candidates forum Monday in April 2012 at The Hilton in College

A natural medicine lobbyist dropped off a bottle of nutritional capsules labeled "Calm" to the office of state Sen. Charles Schwertner.

They had the opposite effect.

Staffers in Schwertner's office called the Texas Department of Public Safety after the supplements were dropped off Tuesday by a representative of the Texas Health Freedom Coalition, an advocacy group for natural health and alternative medicine.

Coalition executive committee member Radhia Gleis said Schwertner's office overreacted to the gift, but the senator's chief of staff, Thomas Holloway, said the office staff was complying with direction from DPS and wasn't trying to worry anyone.

Still, the coalition capitalized on the incident and used it to help spread awareness about its legislative goals. Gleis also had strong words for Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon in Georgetown who represents Bryan and College Station in the Senate.

"This is a perfect example of a medical doctor who knows nothing about these herbs," Gleis said.

Gleis said the lobbyist gave all members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services the capsules, a health book and a one-page summary of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Texans to choose their health care from alternative or natural providers. She said the group had many natural supplements to chose from, but went with "calm" variety in a somewhat joking manner.

The capsules, she said, contained magnesium and the herb ashwagandha. The bottle was commercially produced and clearly labeled, she added.

"We thought it would be appropriate for the Legislature this time of year," Gleis said of the "Calm" capsules. "It's a crazy time with lots of stress. [We] thought it would be a nice gesture to add a little bottle of calm."

Schwertner's staff felt differently. Holloway indicated that the way in which the natural medicine advocates approached the staffers is what sparked the investigation, and that labels are not always indicative of contents.

"Based on the protocols they've asked us to follow and based on the manner in which the person presented them, members of our office felt it was suspicious enough to inform DPS of," Holloway said.

He said the staff was just trying to comply with direction for DPS.

"Due to recent security concerns all legislative offices have been asked to immediately contact the Department of Public Safety if they receive any packages or deliveries of a suspicious nature," Holloway said. "Our office complied with these guidelines."

DPS communication director Tom Vinger confirmed Wednesday the investigation into the bottle was concluded. It lasted less than 24 hours.

"In accordance with security protocols at the state Capitol, state officials are urged to contact DPS any time they have security or safety concerns," Vinger said in a prepared statement. "That is exactly what happened in this case. After looking into this specific matter, DPS determined that no additional action was necessary."

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(11) comments

dinydeek

His office was the only one to freak out an assume the bottle of vitamins was going to hurt him or someone in his office. He is a medical Dr.
This situation highlights the huge disconnect between Drs and health and nutrition. Our modern Dr. prescribes tests,pills, exercise- Not avoid GMO's, Fluoride,Lead, MSG, which is the root problem but then he would have far fewer patients.

These Drs. who shun vitamins,nutrition and clean food are the same ones who daily shun hard to treat patients with chronic fatigue,Mitochondrial Disease,Fibro and many other invisible diseases. They treat us like we are nuts- when in fact we are very sick- if they won't help us what choice do we have but to see and trust alternative care that is willing to admit we are sick and need help?

I think it is shame,arrogance and pride that so often has these Drs. acting like a pill is superior to simple food and lifestyle- Medical school needs to start teaching that all the chemicals, we expose ourselves to in our food chain are as deadly to humans as standing on a train track-

TX Health Freedom

As the chair of the 50,000+ member Texas Health Freedom Coalition, and the author of the book and formulator of the supplement provided to Sen. Schwertner, I can tell you that his office was the ONLY one out of 181 offices that reacted (overreacted, in fact) this way.
I know the volunteer who dropped off that bottle personally. There is NO way they could have been impolite, rude or threatening. Further, ALL of the other offices who received the "Calm" product expressed gratitude and appreciation, including those of several other representatives who, like Sen. Schwertner, are medical doctors. Some even wanted additional bottles!
Speaking of bottles, this product is manufactured in an FDA-approved manufacturing facility. The ingredients are all considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and have been extensively studied for safety and efficacy.
Despite their excuses about following security guidelines, there is only one way to characterize the actions of Sen. Schwertner's staff: an overreaction out of ignorance. Sen. Schwertner should issue a public apology for his staff's thoughtless actions.

David_Guerrero1

Shameless marketing ploy.

riders of the storm

It says in the article that ALL members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services were given the gifts, so why was Senator Schwertner the only one who claims to have followed the "rules" and contacted the DPS? Dr. Schwertner of all people should know, but of course does not, that magnesium and Ashwaganda are safe and effective with no known side-effects. The bottle was hermetically sealed with the ingredients clearly marked. Out of all the Senators offices that might have been alarmed, Schwertner should have been the voice of reason not the irrational alarmist.

More than likely, this stunt was designed to intimidate the coalition. Schwertner no doubt is one of the inside legislative advocates for his trade guild the TMA, (Texas Medical Association).

It seems that the general population has little or no idea how influential the TMA and their henchmen the TMB are. The TMA is the 800lb gorilla in the legislature, it's influence is powerful and self-serving.

The public needs to know once and for all that the TMB has a history of harassment and intimidation of non-medical health-care providers in order to intimidate practitioners and keep public access to these services limited, all under the guise of public safety.

They will say that they are just trying to protect the public yet, there is no evidence of grave injury or death from Complementary or Alternative medicine, unlike the hundreds of thousands of deaths a year and millions of documented cases of injury from what is considered "standard of Care" medicine.


Kevin Block

If one considers that studies show traditional doctors (and people who work for/with them) are poorly educated on dietary supplements (see http://www.supplements-and-health.com/nutritional-supplements-information.html ), this odd reaction seems to make sense after all.

GigEm

Four negative comments from new posters, three of them very long...
Kind of suspicious.

owlpal

Suspicious of what? What seems suspicious to me is the Senator's over-reaction to a hermetically sealed bottle. Why was he the only one? All the other Senators didn't call the authorities. Those guys get all kinds of gifts from cookies to bar-b-que. If there was a concern about a dangerous substance covertly placed in the well marked sealed bottle why don't they report everything they receive to the DPS?

Really

Wow!!!! Surely , every nervous person and their dog or cat will look for "CALM". What a great marketing effort by the lobbyist? He/She should get bonus. This is how you get your product known.

David_Guerrero1

What a joke. Nothing more than an opportunity for a marketing campaign from the Texas Health Freedom Coalition. There are many more relevant things that are newsworthy: education funding, charter schools, Medicaid, and transportation infrastructure. Mark this article in the irrelevant category.

elf

Perhaps Sen. Charles Schwertner feels guilty about something he did. He should.

Gobstopper

OMG! Nutritional supplements! Run for your lives!

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