July 12, 2021 – Following today’s shocking announcement that Governor Bill Lee terminated Dr. Michelle D. Fiscus, the Medical Director of Tennessee’s Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization program, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons (District 55) issued the following statement:
I want Governor Lee and Commissioner Piercey to explain to those I represent why they fired Dr. Fiscus. Every person in Tennessee relies on and reasonably expects the professionals serving in our state government to rise above politics and perform their respective roles to their utmost ability. We all deserve an explanation from Governor Lee and Commissioner Piercey about Dr. Fiscus’ termination.
Having read Dr. Fiscus’ statement, I am outraged. It is disturbing to think that a governor would terminate someone of Dr. Fiscus’ expertise and experience, especially an individual who has played such a vital role throughout a pandemic, just to appease a cabal of science-denying extremists who currently control the Tennessee Republican Party and have irresponsibly politicized and spread misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
The particular circumstances of Dr. Fiscus’ firing are nothing short of a slap in the face to every public servant working for our state. This will unquestionably have a chilling effect on those playing similarly important roles throughout our government and raises fair questions about who will replace her in this important role. It is already difficult enough to get qualified professionals to work for the government. What qualified professional would want this job now? Will the governor require a political litmus test for all job applicants? Will an individual be offered the job with the understanding that they are not to fully carry out the job description?
We cannot and should not allow this type of questionable behavior in our government at any level. Such conduct by those in elected office only serves to further erode public confidence in our government. Nothing about this situation resembles good governance or is intended to protect the public health and welfare of our state in any way. Tennessee families deserve better.