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Commonwealth Club of California Engages in Censorship of Talk entitled, “American Whistleblowers”!

Commonwealth club buiildingBy Kent Heckenlively, JD

On March 25, 2015 I received the following e-mail from Kevin O’Malley of the Commonwealth Club of California regarding a scheduled appearance on April 9, 2015 by myself, Dr. Judy Mikovits, and Dr. Brian Hooker for a presentation entitled “American Whistleblowers”.

Kent and Judy,

Unfortunately it seems that Kent's blog two days ago set up a chain reaction that is causing some challenges with the Commonwealth Club, and we have come under a lot of fire from outside the Club directed at us.

Given the timing, and the challenging environment right now, the conversation has become a much different one than our program intended, and not one that will support getting the word out about your book, or any of our positive messages. As such, I am going to have to postpone the program and revisit how to best present this all at a later date.

This is a very tricky issue in a Public Affairs Forum, and it appears the Kent's warning about drawing attention was correct. There is also concern about how we are framing the discussion, and the focus on whistle-blowers seems to have back-fired, and taken us away from our primary intent.

Please let folks know that we are postponing the program -- and PLEASE DO NOT include any editorial comments about this in anything further you make public. Just let them know that we need to postpone due to a scheduling challenge. Any further editorial input around any of this will just make things worse; we need to let any outside attention fade away from what we tried to do here.


It’s probably worth backing up a little bit to recount how all of this came to pass.  On February 18, 2015 the wonderful documentary Trace Amounts, detailing the history of mercury in vaccines, was showing at the Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco.  I was the master of ceremonies for the event.  Prior to the showing of the movie, I met Christie Dames and her husband, Kevin O’Malley.  Christie was enthusiastic about the book I had just co-written with Dr. Judy Mikovits, PLAGUE: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

Dr. Mikovits is a government scientist of more than twenty years’ experience and was Director of the Lab of Antiviral Drugs Mechanisms at the National Cancer Institute.  Her research indicated a possible retroviral cause to chronic fatigue syndrome and autism, making it similar in many ways to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, although without the fatal consequences.  I am a public school science teacher and an attorney.  Christie wanted to get us to speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. 

Her husband Kevin, is Chairman of the Business and Leadership forum at the Commonwealth Club agreed and we quickly made plans for an appearance.  Christie thought we should broaden the scope from just our book, and include Dr. Brian Hooker, a biology professor from Simpson University, who had recently burst onto the public stage with revelations of a whistleblower for the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. William Thompson.  The allegations of Dr. Thompson were that that public health officials had covered up a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in African-American males.

Here is the text of the program we developed for the April 9, 2015 event:  American Whistleblowers: The Perils and Promise of Science:  Whistleblowers from Daniel Ellsberg in the 70s to Edward Snowden in recent years, have always received pointed public attention for exposing the internal dealings of our powerful political and military institutions.  But who shines a light on the convoluted realm of health care, a massive industry that brought in over 1.6 trillion dollars in revenue over the past year?  With health care choice at the nexus of our constitutional rights, and scares like Ebola and measles grabbing international headlines, how do we know we’re getting information that is truthful?  Come hear about scientists, lauded by some and maligned by others, who decide to go public with information that many in the industry don’t want us to see.

I was excited about the Commonwealth Club invitation as it bills itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum” with a mission to be “the leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation.”  There was also discussion that Daniel Ellsberg, whose revelation of massive fraud and dishonesty in the prosecution of the Vietnam War would introduce us.  Kevin and his wife, Christie seemed to be good people who were concerned about these issues.

Ticket sales were a little slow so I suggested writing an article for the web-site Age of Autism.  I told Kevin and Christie that there were some individuals who were very critical of the parent community of Age of Autism and if I did publish an article about the talk they might get some calls.  Kevin assured me that would not be a problem.  As you know, dear reader, that did not turn out to be the case.

In the four months since the cancellation of our talk I have to confess to a sense of deep disappointment at the profound silence from the Commonwealth Club and its representatives.  To their credit, Robert Kennedy, Jr. did appear at the Commonwealth Club on April 7, 2015 for a talk on mercury and vaccines and I reported on that event and gave credit to the club for not knuckling under to pressure to cancel his talk.

But I always thought there was something fundamental in the DNA of my fellow countrymen which would not allow us to be forever kept off the stage at the Commonwealth Club.  I wonder why it is that the Commonwealth Club does not live up to their own principles of free and open discussion?  How can my speech be prohibited by the club before I even speak?  Is censorship the new method of operation in the United States?  If we say anything wrong, the answer in our country for more than two hundred years is for people with differing opinions to speak and try to convince the public that they are correct.

I have reached out on several occasions to Kevin O’Malley and Christie Dames about rescheduling our talk, but they have given me no reason to believe we will ever be allowed to speak.  It’s difficult when those who claim to be your friends treat you no different than your enemies.  I never thought it would be necessary in my lifetime to defend free speech.  I thought the right to freely express our ideas without fear of reprisal or censorship was something every American would defend to their very last breath.  Sometimes it seems even our friends can forget these principles.

 If you feel so motivated, please call the President of the Commonwealth Club, Gloria Duffy at (415) 597-6721 and politely ask that the American Whistleblowers talk from April 9, 2015 be immediately rescheduled.  You can also e-mail her at [email protected]


Mark Blaxill

I understand the frustrations about censorship. I also don't think we should air internal disagreements between parents in the fight out in public. Just my .02

Birgit Calhoun

Cherry! I am glad you put it that way. Too many of those who don't get it when we say there is a quality control issue with vaccines, think that it's the active ingredients. It's not. It's those ingredients that do not need to be listed because they are not active. It's about time that people consider the fact that "the child may be well", but he might never care for himself (may have lost his brain), and this fact may affect a whole family and others around them. Things are going full circle. I am facetious when I say: "Merthiolate (Thimerosal) didn't kill those 22 people who had meningitis in 1929 (Those tests were done by Eli Lily researchers in Cleveland). You all know: "It was the meningitis." So what was wrong with that? Those researchers lacked the where-with-all then, and they prefer to lack the where-with-all now. If a toxin gets tested on near dead people, does that mean the toxin is all of a sudden not a toxin any longer? Thanks for the comment!

Stephen Becker

Amazing how far reaching the medical tyranny is. They are all, and I mean all, compliant with drug mafia. Unfortunately many of the get along to go along crowd do not realize how they, their children, and their pets are being poisoned with vaccines.

Denise Anderstrom Douglass

Well said, Kent Heckenlively! And Mr. O'Malley's letter says it all, especially the part about not saying why publicly... Sure, and please participate in your own marginalization. Thank you for publishing this!

Cherry Misra

A voice from the past was repeating itself in my head this afternoon and perhaps it is appropriate to the day. Could it be that Kevin and Christie heard some version of the old " But vaccines save lives !!! These people kill children! " To which I once replied, " Well, after you get your life saved, it would be nice to have a brain "

Jim Thompson

For now, the Commonwealth Club motto "Find the truth, and turn it loose in the world" seems to have been modified with the caveat “—unless we come under a lot of fire.” But if they cannot stand a lot of fire when children are harmed then what exactly do they stand for?


How disappointing. I'm sorry that happened. I am having a hard time comprehending how the people at these companies cannot care about the pain, suffering, stress that parents and children -- families -- go through.

Birgit Calhoun

Kim! I had very much hoped that the Commonwealth Club would present the issues dear to us. I haven't seen that they have been going out on a limb lately regarding any community issues. They have only presented "safe" subjects lately. My husband and I used to be members, but the issues presented were not interesting enough to remain members. So when they scheduled the "Whistleblower" program I was excited.

I don't see Kent bullying anyone. He is disappointed, and so am I. But it would have been nice if the Commonwealth leadership had given Kent a satisfactory explanation for taking him off the program.

I presume it's politics.

Angus Files

The ones in life who do, equal a couple of percent of the population and, the ones who think about it are, the 98 percenters.

I never thought the CC would fall into the latter..the 98 percenters ..


Birgit Calhoun

I guess it's a hot potato for several reasons. I have read the book and I am familiar with the whistle blower issue, and am not surprised about Judith Mikovits' treatment by the people who pretended to be her friends in Nevada and the justice system there and in California. Our country is in crisis. People who appear to be educated close their minds to the possibility that there might be something fundamentally wrong.

Nobody wants to rock the boat. Nobody wants to know that we are being lied to when we are told that oversight in medicine is wonderful. There is no accountability, and when an issue such as yours and ours is swept under the rug, it is likely to stay there. We don't have any viable watchdog organizations, and we are in the minority. It's a crying shame.

Alison MacNeil

I strongly disagree with calling the Commonwealth Club's speaking schedule "censorship." I can't support that. I know Christie Dames and Kevin O'Malley very well. I know their passion for the truth in our shared causes, and their integrity. Sometimes people change their minds and decide to go with different speakers, not out of censorship but because they've changed their minds.


If the forces which dominate every aspect of our lives today were this pronounced 200 years ago, Paul Revere would not be allowed to ride.


It sounds like you need to have more conversations with the representatives from the Commonwealth Club. It sounds to me like there is more to this story than anyone can discern from this account. The fact that they've had RFK Jr. and The Thinking Moms' Revolution as guests doesn't jive with the idea that this is about censorship. I don't know what this article is hoping to achieve. It seems the author is taking it very personally that his talk was cancelled, but how is it censorship with other anti-vax speakers have been guests? Perhaps the slow ticket sales were a bigger issue than Mr. O'Malley suspected they might be. In which case... too bad. Move on. This really seems very petty to me.

"It’s difficult when those who claim to be your friends treat you no different than your enemies. " Is that what this is about? Hurt feelings? This hardly seems like an appropriate place to vent.

Kim Spencer

The Commonwealth Club is under no obligation to allow those to speak who bully them any more than than AoA is obligated to run any blog turned into them. They are a private club. Their stage, their choice. The Commonwealth Club has been over the top about bringing our community's issues to light and if at this time they had not added you to the schedule yet and then got this treatment you deserve to be left off the schedule. I just hope Christie and Kevin understand how much we appreciate them going out on a limb for our community as much as they have. Disclosure: I have spoken there and if I had drug them through the mud over a postponement I wouldn't have gotten on that stage either. Deservedly. Why must we eat our own?


Very sad to hear that this didn't happen. At the very least, if your acquaintances that tried to set up the talk were honest to begin with, they now have a direct understanding of what Dr. Mikovitz and other doctors and scientists are contending with. It's something they will never forget and a story that they will probably carry forward and share forever - if they are honest.


I find it difficult to reconcile the era of censorship we have been living with in contemporary America with her tumultuous birth of independence.
The censorship of journalists,
of scientists,
of doctors.....
Groups that can create wandering cursors and stuttering keyboards, retract valid scientific studies from publications, and throw data in the garbage cans.......

Science is pure.  People are corrupt.

The majority of funding for the Commonwealth Club comes from undisclosed contributors:


Not many of their talks appear to be on medically related issues so there is no obvious reason for their funding to come from the industry, but I don't know any means of verification.

The Board of Governors has nobody with clear pharmaceutical ties although they all have professional reputations to maintain.

So all we can tell is that whatever pressure led to the decision to cancel the talk came from an external source that regularly reads AoA and within two days was able to enforce its will on a free speech forum. Whatever was threatened demonstrates a frightening level of power.

I doubt that Kevin O'Malley knows himself what it was. He is still arranging talks:

Those with a winning argument do not stifle debate.

for Kent

Sometimes you have to keep your cards close to your chest and I'm afraid this may have been one of those times, even at the risk of less turnout.
Kevin's begging you to not speak now about what happened is laughable. They caved and look awful and yes there truly is no more free speech. The fact that the Commonwealth Club does not live up to its own purpose speaks volumes.


"But who shines a light on the convoluted realm of health care, a MASSIVE INDUSTRY that brought in OVER 1.6 TRILLION DOLLARS IN REVENUE OVER THE PAST YEAR? ...Come hear about scientists,...who decide to go public with INFORMATION that many in the INDUSTRY DON'T WANT US TO SEE."

Who shines a light? Not the industry-controlled Commonwealth Club.

The questions that the Commonwealth Club needs to answer: Who did they come under fire from? What kind of challenges did this present for the Club? What was their primary intent? Finally, asking Kent to announce the reason for this postponement as a scheduling issue is asking him to lie to the public - for them.

John Stone

Thank you Kent

We have obviously come to an impasse (no less in the UK). Some very bad things have been going on within the state for decades and no one may be allowed to talk about it - it is coming to a head nevertheless. Consider, even if we were debating the reason for going to war, we would be allowed to talk about it: discuss in a mainstream forum the evidence for actions (bearing in mind the war party always tends to win, at least short term). But these liars are so absolutely assured of the fact that their actions cannot bear scrutiny that they can only resort to extraodinary means to make sure the truth does not prevail.

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