The biggest mystery of this campaign season, other than whether Paul Grogan is Diana Finegan’s secret running mate, is the elephant in the room regarding Paul Reinhardt.
He calls himself Dr. Reinhardt. It says, “M.D.” on his campaign signs for House District 23.
His biography says he graduated with a doctor of medicine from the Universidad del Noreste in Tampico, Mexico.
It lists numerous medical externships at hospitals in the Northeast and Miami. He certainly has worked in hospitals.
But is he a doctor, a physician? The kind of person one normally thinks of when it’s Name, M.D.?
Not that I can tell. He hasn’t produced a certificate, not a single shred of paper that states he’s ever been a licensed physician.
Reinhardt, who refused to talk to me about this, seems to suggest his doctorate in Mexico allows him to place the “M.D.” after his name.
Logic says that’s crazy. Wouldn’t the U.S. government require medical graduates from foreign universities to pass certification tests before they’re allowed to start practicing medicine? Turns out Florida does.
In what licensed profession are you allowed to jump from degree into job without getting the, you know, actual license?
The incumbent in the HD 23 race, Rep. Ralph Massullo (an ACTUAL doctor), went to the Crystal Oaks Republican Club recently and let folks know he was tired of hearing Reinhardt go on about a medical profession that, Massullo said, exists only in Reinhardt’s imagination.
There are two schools of thought about Massullo raising Reinhardt’s past. One is that it's generally not good politics for a front-runner — and a three-term incumbent is certainly the front-runner in this race — to shed any light on a lesser opponent. Why bring attention when it’s not necessary?
Massullo has drawn some attention of his own, so it's a risky move to kick up sand this close to the primary.
The other, though, is this: We shouldn’t allow candidates to go out on the campaign trail and tell whoppers about themselves, no matter their rank in the pecking order of voter popularity.
Massullo opted for the latter.
Reinhardt has a medical degree from a Mexican university and probably knows a lot about medical stuff, but nothing I’ve found suggests he’s ever been a physician in the traditional sense of the word. Unless he’s holding a license we don’t know about.
I guess he can call himself an M.D., but if he gives folks the impression he’s a licensed doctor and he’s not, the state has a law about that.
It’s a misdemeanor: “Leading the public to believe that one is licensed as a medical doctor, or is engaged in the licensed practice of medicine, without holding a valid, active license.”
You tell me. His campaign signs say Paul John Reinhardt, M.D. He signed his state campaign paperwork, Paul John Reinhardt MD. His Facebook page says Paul John Reinhardt M.D.
Reinhardt also claims to have received a Doctor of Naturopathy in 2003 from St. Luke School of Medicine in Liberia, West Africa. He used the diploma to receive NMD (naturopathy medical doctor) certifications in Washington, D.C. and Idaho (?), then in 2005 he sued the State of Florida, which hasn’t licensed naturopathics since 1959.
His lawsuit went nowhere. The state still doesn’t license naturopathics. And the St. Luke School of Medicine, where Reinhardt used his diploma to receive certifications in Washington and Idaho, was found to be fake.
(By the way, wondering what a naturopathic is? Here’s one explanation.)
There were other things that Massullo mentioned to the Crystal Oaks Republican group but you get the point. When Massullo finished, the audience responded with loud applause.
I don’t know why Reinhardt finds it necessary to exaggerate his background. He seems like a decent enough fellow and really doesn’t need all that stuff to run for office.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.