The Iowa-licensed physician who has questioned the use of vaccines and face masks in fighting COVID-19 says she has been fined $500 by the Transportation Security Administration.
In a Twitter message posted March 17, Dr. Mollie James, who operates a clinic in Chariton, wrote: “TSA is trying to fine me $500 because a hostile flight attendant didn’t like where my mask was sitting on my nose.” She did not elaborate.
There is no record of a TSA-imposed civil penalty against James in the Iowa state court system, but such a penalty could have been imposed in any of the 50 states. TSA spokesperson Jessica Mayle said the agency won’t confirm whether specific individuals have been cited for violations and said none of the agency’s enforcement actions are published on the TSA’s website.
The New York Times reported last week that over the past six months, the TSA has stepped up civil citations issued to airline passengers who refuse to comply with mask mandates. In all, the TSA has imposed more than $640,000 in fines, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
During the previous six months, the TSA fined just 10 passengers a total of $2,350, preferring instead to rely on warnings.
James is a surgeon and critical care specialist who has practiced in Des Moines, St. Louis and New York City. Her license is in good standing with the Iowa Board of Medicine, and she has become a frequent guest of right-wing commentators and podcasters who see mask mandates and vaccination recommendations as infringing on the rights of Americans.
James has said she was staging “jailbreaks” that involve pulling patients out of hospitals against the medical advice of other doctors. In one recent podcast, she said she has treated 4,000 COVID-19 patients and of those who were still in the earliest stages of infection, only one died.
On a recent podcast called “Joe’s Place: The Joe Giannotti Podcast,” James said many of her patients come to her because they no longer trust their physicians or local hospitals.
“They were telling me, ‘I’m never going back to my doctor,’ ‘My doctor told me I needed to get the shot so they don’t lost their job,’ or, ‘My doctor told me I need to get the shot because (the vaccine) is ready to expire and they’ll have to throw them away’, ” James said. “I mean, people are smart. They know that’s not a good medical justification.”
Much of what James says about COVID-19 contradicts the federal government’s advice on mitigation and treatment, a fact she readily acknowledges.
Kent Nebel, executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, told the Iowa Capital Dispatch last year that the licensing board can’t comment on James specifically, but is currently looking at complaints involving Iowa doctors who are spreading questionable information about COVID-19.