In early October, Jezebel reported that medical research led by Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz resulted in the deaths of 31 pigs, 661 rabbits and rodents, and 329 dogs, including an entire litter of puppies—as well as horrific torture before their deaths. Oz’s team at Columbia University published 75 studies between 1989 and 2010 that relied on data from experiments on 1,027 live animal subjects. Oz was the principal investigator on those studies, meaning he was in charge of them.
According to a Washington Post report published on Tuesday, Oz called his former supervisor—Columbia’s chief of cardiac surgery, Eric Rose—about three weeks ago and asked him to publicly state that Oz wasn’t responsible for the alleged mistreatment of animals. Rose declined to do so, telling the Post it felt like the candidate was asking for a political favor.
Rose disclosed to the Post that his relationship with Oz “soured” about three years ago and that he opposes Oz’s political views and has contributed $165 to the campaign of the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
In phone interview with Jezebel later on Tuesday, Rose said that Oz hadn’t contacted him in years before reaching out regarding reports about his puppy-killing studies. “[Oz] wanted from me a letter saying that he never stepped foot in the lab, that he hadn’t knocked around any animals, and this was all the veterinarian’s fault,” Rose told Jezebel. The veterinarian working on Oz’s research was the key whistleblower who alerted the USDA about violations of the Animal Welfare Act in Oz’s research in the early 2000s.
Rose said Oz should have “just owned a piece of it.”
“He should have said, ‘Yes, it was my lab. I was the PI [primary investigator]. I didn’t know this was going on,” Rose said.
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According to Rose, during his call with Oz, the Senate candidate repeatedly tried to persuade him to release such a letter to help his political campaign by claiming more extreme Republicans like Mastriano and former President Donald Trump don’t reflect his party. “He told me that Mastriano was behind 20% in the polls, which I can’t be making up because I have never looked at a single poll,” Rose recalled. The latest polls show Josh Shapiro, Democratic nominee for governor, ahead of Mastriano by about 9%.
Dr. Charles Stolar, a pediatric surgeon at Columbia who corroborated Rose’s claims in the Post, told Jezebel in a phone interview that Oz was “full of shit” and “a total phony.”
“To watch him expounding on stuff now about which he knows nothing—he was a pretty good surgeon, his patients liked him, I’ll give him that. He was a good doctor when he was a doctor,” Stolar said. “But to hear him expounding on anything to do with a government policy, history, anything—he has no idea what he’s talking about.”
Oz’s Senate campaign did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment on Rose and Stolar’s claims.
Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick confirmed that Oz made the call. “Oz reached out to Dr. Rose along with several other doctors to ask for their assistance in setting the record straight.” She added, “Doctors from his time at Columbia offered words of support, and some put their support in writing.”
The detail about Oz calling Rose was part of a damning Post report about Oz being forced to withdraw a study he was set to present at a 2003 academic conference. The group hosting the conference, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, banned him from presenting any other research and from publishing research in its medical journal for two years.