North Carolina Chiropractic Board "Loses" Minutes of Official Meetings
According to the Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Chiropractic, the Board experienced “data challenges” in late 2015 and early 2016 involving both written and electronic files. As a result, the minutes and other records related to the decisions, deliberations and work of the North Carolina Board of Chiropractic are not available prior to January 2014.
The admission came about as a result of an open records request sent to the chiropractic board seeking copies of the minutes of meetings and hearings of the North Carolina Board of Chiropractic for the following years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.
Readers may recall that North Carolina is the State involved in the United States Supreme Court Case North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. That case said that state licensing boards composed of market participants do not enjoy automatic immunity from antitrust laws. The decision in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission affirmed the Fourth Circuit and dealt a setback to an increasingly common form of regulation by these boards.
In regards to the chiropractic board there is no way to review the work this board did and the decisions that this board made – ever - in its history of existence.
In what can only be described as bizarre - an additional open records request revealed that the board admitted it does have all the records of all disciplinary actions and decisions against chiropractors who were brought before the board. In essence, the board lost all the records documenting all of the decisions the board made and all of its historical actions except the records of discipline against practicing chiropractors. Therefore there are no records in existence to hold the Board accountable for its actions.
In another follow-up to the open records request the Board was asked for copies of "any correspondence, documents, letters, e-mails, texts, reports and/or any communications among the Board of Chiropractic, its individual board members, staff or any other individuals regarding the existence, loss or status otherwise of the Board Meeting minutes from the past five years. Please include any records, copies of any correspondence, documents, letters, e-mails, texts, reports and/or any communications related to the board’s associated historical data challenges."
The Executive Director of the Board Tom Sullivan responded:
“Correspondence among Board members, staff or others regarding the existence, loss or status of Board Minutes over the last five years: No such correspondence exists.”
Finding it very hard to believe that a regulatory board responsible for the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of a state and the licensing and oversight of an entire profession would not record or otherwise communicate the loss of all of its board meeting records (prior to 2014) a follow-up request was made pointing this out.
The Executive Director responded admitting that he knew these records didn’t exist when they were first requested but did not reveal that fact. It was also admitted that the board never officially discussed the loss of all of its minutes in any meeting nor was it documented in any way in writing prior to the open records request. In their response the board stated it “had not been an issue” because “no one has asked”.
The Board responded:
“For a short period of time earlier this year, I was the only person in NC that discovered pre-2014 Board Minutes didn’t exist after taking the job as Executive Director in February. I subsequently had verbal conversations with our Board Counsel and mentioned it in passing to a couple of the Board members. This has not been an issue since I have been here as no one has asked for historical minutes and we haven’t needed to go back to review old Board Minutes to conduct Board business. I have provided you all of the Board minutes in our possession and there are no written correspondence around this topic.
Regarding the 'historical data challenges', I made reference to a 'data base' project in the minutes of the April 2016 Board Minutes and about the 'Audit' in the July 2016 Board Minutes. Those were the only discussions with the Board and written correspondence on these topics. We are a small office of 4 and I communicate directly with my staff on these as well as other projects. With the disclosure in the minutes sited above, you have all records regarding this matter.
These revelations regarding the conduct of the North Carolina Chiropractic Board come on the heels of the Board voting to add Random Office Inspections of chiropractors in the state and a new rule regarding pre-payment plans.
The Members of the North Carolina Board of Chiropractic are:
- Dr. Bruce Hilton - President
- Dr. William Ray Armstrong, Jr. - Vice-President
- Dr. Richard K. Davis, Jr. - Secretary
- Dr. Randy Schilsky - Treasurer
- Dr. Jessica Benningfield - Member
- Dr. Kevin Sharp - Member
- Mr. Adam Bridgers - Public Member
- Mrs. Jacqueline S. Hobbs - Public Member
It is not known whether or not the North Carolina Attorney General or the Governor is aware of this situation.
All chiropractors who were disciplined by the board in the past and any chiropractors currently being disciplined or having been called before the board recently, are urged to speak to their attorneys regarding how this may affect the disposition of their cases.