Doctors call out Pruitt and company’s ‘abhorrent and blatant’ lies about Snyder’s degree

Launching her campaign in 2019, Democrat Liz Snyder has given progressives perhaps their best chance at flipping a legislative district in this year’s election.

Her fundraising is more than triple what Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt has raised, the district has more Democrats and fewer Republicans than it did in 2018 and Democrats have a large advantage when it comes to early voting in the district.

Pruitt, who waited until the last minute to enter the race after spending the last two years as one of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s closest legislative allies, and his backers have tried a muddled medley of attacks on Snyder—claiming that she’s going to tax everyone or that she’s not going to tax enough—but the one they’ve returned to the most is boiling outrage that Snyder has dared to call herself a doctor.  

Snyder is a doctor, just not the medical doctor that Pruitt claims she has claimed to be.

With a Doctor of Philosophy in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida, Snyder is a doctor, and she says she’s never claimed to be a medical doctor as Pruitt claims in a letter sent to voters last week, in which he used sneer quotes around the term (another mailer spelled “health care” as “healtcare,” for what it’s worth).

Snyder, who also has a master’s degree in public health from Emory University and currently teaches public health policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said she’s frustrated that the talk has dominated the race while Pruitt has refused to debate any substantive policy.

“It’s tiresome,” Snyder said in an interview with TMS today. “It’s one instance in a long line of women’s qualifications being questioned. It’s just frustrating when you dedicate your whole life to a field and you’re qualified—I’m a public health professor and have been for more than 10 years—and he doesn’t want to show up and would rather spread lies than talk about the issues facing Alaskans. It’s ridiculous and disrespectful to voters.”

The line of attack is also tiresome to a group of doctors, which includes a familiar name from the fight against the covid pandemic in Alaska. They penned a letter, which was released by Snyder’s campaign today, blasting Pruitt and his allies for their attacks on Snyder.

“In a time where the accuracy of health information has never been more important, we’ve learned that Rep. Pruitt recently sent a letter to East Anchorage voters falsely claiming that his opponent, Dr. Liz Snyder – who is our colleague and friend – is not a ‘Dr.’ and is not a public health professional,” says the letter. “This is an abhorrent and blatant lie, and yet another example of Rep. Pruitt doing and saying anything he thinks will increase his chances of being re-elected. This time Rep. Pruitt is attacking an accomplished woman dedicated to our community.”

The letter includes Dr. Tom Hennessy, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the University of Alaska Anchorage who has made the news frequently during the pandemic to discuss covid-19 in Alaska, along with Dr. Jennifer Meyer, medical Dr. Jose Luna and Trina Stauff de Luna, an RN.

They note that Snyder has lent a helping hand in the University of Alaska Anchorage’s work in responding to the virus, including a paper on food security and other work.

“Most recently, Drs. Hennessy and Meyer worked alongside Dr. Snyder as part of a team of University-based public and medical health professionals focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the write. “Dr. Snyder is a tireless worker and team player who is committed to improving the health of ALL Alaskans.”

The letter also questions Pruitt’s decision to call out a paper that Snyder co-authored about the health disparities in Alaska regarding Alaska Natives, a group that has been much more likely to get sick and more likely to die from covid than other Alaskans.

“This smacks of racism,” the letter concludes, “and this alone should disqualify him from representing Alaskans.”

The letter

In a time where the accuracy of health information has never been more important, we’ve learned that Rep. Pruitt recently sent a letter to East Anchorage voters falsely claiming that his opponent, Dr. Liz Snyder – who is our colleague and friend – is not a “Dr.” and is not a public health professional. This is an abhorrent and blatant lie, and yet another example of Rep. Pruitt doing and saying anything he thinks will increase his chances of being re-elected. This time Rep. Pruitt is attacking an accomplished woman dedicated to our community. 

Dr. Snyder has been a professor of public health for the past 11 years. She earned her Masters of Public Health degree in 2004, and her PhD in Soil and Water Science in 2009. Her studies focused on human health risk assessment, and she has spent over the past decade dedicated to improving the health of Alaskans and training our next generations of public health professionals. 

Most recently, Drs. Hennessy and Meyer (co-signed) worked alongside Dr. Snyder as part of a team of University-based public and medical health professionals focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Snyder is a tireless worker and team player who is committed to improving the health of ALL Alaskans. For just a brief example of her work and capabilities, we encourage you to visit the following link to the multiple papers on COVID-19 response she co-authored in recent months: https://covid-response-moamuniorg.hub.arcgis.com/pages/data#UAA 

On top of Rep. Pruitt’s baseless attack on Dr. Snyder’s credentials, he strangely listed her work partnering with Alaska Native communities to address health disparities as evidence against her qualifications. This smacks of racism, and this alone should disqualify him from representing Alaskans.

  • Thomas Hennessy, MD, MPH Captain, United States Public Health Service (retired) 
  • Jennifer Meyer PhD, MPH, CPH, RN, and former Alaska Public Health Association President 
  • Jose Luna, MD Critical care physician 
  • Trina Stauff de Luna, RN Critical care and perioperative nurse 

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4 Comments on "Doctors call out Pruitt and company’s ‘abhorrent and blatant’ lies about Snyder’s degree"

  1. On the other hand, Ms. Snyder wouldn’t mind if some(not fully informed) voters think she IS a medical doctor during this COVID era election……

  2. Alexandra Duane | October 27, 2020 at 10:35 am | Reply

    Marlin Savage, she’s been very specific about her degrees and has never claimed to be a medical doctor. Intelligent people see right through Pruitt’s desperate smears.

  3. Re: AD

    As I said, On the other hand, Ms. Snyder wouldn’t mind if some(not fully informed) voters think she IS a medical doctor during this COVID era election……

    Not interested in pruitt or his claims; just saying too many voters don’t become fully informed prior to voting….

  4. In academia (you know, the culture that invented doctorates), PhDs were historically considered to be real doctors, whereas up until the last century or so, MDs were no more than glorified barbers or butchers. In parts of the Commonwealth surgeons still prefer to be called “Mr” or “Ms” rather than “Doctor” — that’s how inconsequential the term “doctor” has been historically within medical circles in the English-speaking world. Not that Lance Pruitt has any idea.

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