What's In It For Me? -- Drs. Rondberg and Immerman Respond
By Editorial StaffIn the recently released book What's In It For Me? (published by HarperCollins), author Joseph Stedino recounts his undercover activity as "Tony Vincent" and the surreptitious recordings that "expose the greed, jealousy and lust that drive Arizona politics." Unfortunately, the activities recounted in this book are not some fabrication from a steamy novel. On the contrary, they come from actual police transcripts of secretly recorded conversations.
Among the many individuals caught in what was dubbed "AzScam," were Dr. Terry Rondberg and Dr. Alan Immerman. In the initial article (please see "What's In It For Me?" in the October 9, 1992 issue), a number of statements recorded and revealed in the book were made by Rich Scheffel, the lobbyist of the Arizona Chiropractic Alliance (which has since merged with the Chiropractic Association of Arizona to create the Arizona Association of Chiropractic). Some of those statements were made about the chiropractic profession in general, and some were made specifically regarding Drs. Rondberg and Immerman.
Ultimately, both Drs. Rondberg and Dr. Immerman signed agreements with the Maricopa County Attorney's office. Both admitted to civil charges of illegal contributions. Dr. Immerman was required to pay a fine of $11,160 and Dr. Rondberg was required to pay a fine of $9,840.
At a time when the reputation of the chiropractic profession is so important, it is very disheartening to read about such events from a book quoting police transcripts. If this were presented on a fictional basis, the entire profession would be screaming, demanding retractions and threatening lawsuits.
Both Drs. Rondberg and Immerman were invited to present their positions on the issues raised by Mr. Stedino's book in the Oct. 9 issue of "DC." Dr. Immerman granted us an interview, but Dr. Rondberg declined the offer.
In order to provide some statements by Dr. Rondberg regarding the incidents named in the book, a copy of the affidavit he signed was requested from the Maricopa County Attorney's office. It is presented in its entirety:
Terry Alan Rondberg, being duly sworn, deposes and says:
Terry Alan Rondberg
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 10 day of March, 1992
Linda C. Bevel
My Commission Expires:
Alan Immerman, D.C., vice chairman of the Arizona Association of Chiropractic: "It is true that some doctors gave me checks for political contributions and asked me to fill in the name of the legislator who I believe most deserved and needed the contribution. ...It would have been impossible for me to divert these funds for my own personal use as implied by Dr. Ronberg's affidavit."
Dr. Alan Immerman has responded with not only an interview printed in "DC" October 9, 1992 concerning What's In It For Me, but has also submitted a written statement for this issue, here presented in its entirety:
Dear Mr. Petersen:
Dynamic Chiropractic's recent article on the AzScam book, What's In It For Me? contains multiple distortions of the truth. The purpose of this letter is to correct these distortions, and to comment on certain statements made in the Terry Rondberg AzScam affidavit which is being published in the current issue of "DC."
First: The new book by the AzScam undercover police agent does not, as claimed by "DC," reveal further information about my involvement in AzScam. The government authority in this case, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, has stated in writing from the beginning that my involvement was limited to what is legally described as an "unknowing civil violation of campaign law." I mistakenly relied upon a legal interpretation of campaign law given by lobbyist Richard Scheffel who at the time was under contract to the Arizona Chiropractic Alliance (AzCA) to provide legal advice regarding campaign law. Scheffel was widely considered to be one of the most respected lobbyists in Arizona.
Second: The involvement of Drs. Rondberg and me in AzScam has not, as stated by "DC," been translated to mean the chiropractic profession's involvement, as the now defunct Arizona Chiropractic Alliance was their organization during the time of the 'sting.'" At the time of the sting, AzCA was not "our organization." In fact, Dr. Rondberg was not a member of the Alliance's Board of Directors, I was only one director out of twelve, and the Alliance had more than 250 members. Shortly after the AzScam story hit the local newspapers, our insurance equality law passed the state Senate by a vote of 25-5. This would never have happened if the legislature had believed that the chiropractic profession had a significant involvement in AzScam.
Third: The Arizona Chiropractic Alliance is not "defunct." The three-year-old alliance and the 14-year-old Chiropractic Association of Arizona merged on an equal footing to form the Arizona Association of Chiropractic (AAC). Neither organization is "defunct" but rather the strength and energy of each have been channeled into a new vehicle.
Fourth: The Arizona Chiropractic Alliance was extremely successful in raising money for political campaigns utilizing legal methods. Of the large amount raised for the 1990 elections, no authority has ever alleged that any money was "bundled" or raised in any other illegal manner. Legal problems arose over approximately $5,000 that our lobbyist, Richard Scheffel, was given by the police undercover agent and which was represented as having been donated by Dr. Rondberg and me. The implication that much of the money contributed by Alliance members was raised in an illegal manner is totally false.
Fifth: I totally and completely deny the statement by the Alliance lobbyist that with some political contributions raised for U.S. Senator Paul Simon, "they (Drs. Rondberg and Immerman) saved a little back for themselves." Each doctor who contributed money to Senator Simon has a canceled check made out to the senator and endorsed on the back showing that the money was deposited in the senator's bank account. This is solid proof that all of the money raised for the senator went exclusively to him. Apparently, our former lobbyist, now a convicted felon, hypothesized in a moment of "hypergreed" as to what he would have done with large sums of money collected for a U.S. Senator.
Sixth: For almost two years I have not been a member of the WCA and I have not supported this organization. I supported the WCA at an earlier time because I saw it as the best vehicle to change federal ERISA law. When it became clear that WCA was not going to work to change ERISA, I left the organization for this and other reasons. Regarding the concept of a non-elected board of directors in Arizona, I supported such a structure for a temporary period of time to deal with what I perceived to be an emergency situation.
"DC" has supplied to me a copy of Dr. Rondberg's AzScam affidavit and I have the following comments.
First: It is true, as Dr. Rondberg stated, that the Alliance (AzCA) was first run from my chiropractic office. In the beginning we were a very small organization, and I donated office space so that we could begin operations.
Second: Dr. Rondberg stated that he "was not very involved with the organization's legislative or fund-raising efforts." This is not true. The fact is that Dr. Rondberg was significantly involved in both areas.
Third: In paragraph five of the affidavit, Dr. Rondberg seems to imply that there was something unethical or dishonest about the fact that some of my office expenses were paid by AzCA. This is completely false. Dr. Rondberg and the other AzCA board members voted in open session to approve reimbursements made to me for the use of my office. I was never a signer on the checking account and all checks written to cover my office expenses were cosigned by two of the 12 board members. Such reimbursements were minimal and never covered the actual costs of running the association from my office. For that reason, I was delighted when the AzCA Board voted to move our office to an independent location.
Fourth: It is true that some doctors gave me checks for political contributions and asked me to fill in the name of the legislator who I believed most deserved and needed the contribution. In each case, the doctor received a canceled check from the bank showing to whom the check was made payable, and stamped on the back proving that the check was deposited in a legislator's account. It would have been impossible for me to divert these funds for my own personal use as implied by Dr. Rondberg's affidavit.
Fifth: I did raise money to purchase two tickets for a political dinner for Governor Fife Symington, and these tickets were given to Dr. Rondberg to attend the dinner. I have never been told by any authority that there was anything wrong with this.
AzScam was an unfortunate event in the history of Arizona politics. When our lobbyist Richard Scheffel became involved by agreeing to bribe legislators on behalf of what he thought to be a legalized gambling effort in Arizona, there was some negative fallout for all of his other 11 clients, including the chiropractic profession. The legislature and public, however, quickly realized that Scheffel's clients were not responsible for his criminal misdeeds, even though many of us unknowingly committed civil campaign law violations based on his distorted legal advice. The chiropractic profession in Arizona continues to move forward in the political arena, and I am proud to be part of that effort as vice chairman of the legislative committee.
I appreciate the opportunity given to me by "DC" to clarify the record. In the future I will gladly respond to any further questions.
Alan M. Immerman, D.C.
Editor's Note: In light of the statements made by Dr. Immerman pertaining to Dr. Rondberg, Dr. Rondberg was again given the opportunity to be interviewed to present his side. Unfortunately, Dr. Rondberg's office notified us that he was out of the country.
"DC" wishes to thank Dr. Immerman for providing the chiropractic profession with his comments and perspective on AzScam.