McMillen forced to resign fitness post, sources say Former congressman heads health company under U.S. investigation

November 22, 1997|By David Folkenflik and Tom Bowman | David Folkenflik and Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF Sun staff writer Carl M. Cannon contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Tom McMillen of Maryland was forced to resign as chairman of President Clinton's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports yesterday, three days after armed federal agents raided the Capitol Hill offices of the health management company he heads, two well-placed sources said.

The White House action occurred amid a federal investigation to determine whether the company's clinics had fraudulently billed government health insurance plans for chiropractic care as though it were for traditional medical care. Most chiropractic services are not covered by federal health insurance plans.

Yesterday afternoon, an aide in the White House personnel office telephoned Stuart Gerson, a former acting U.S. attorney general who is representing McMillen, to instruct McMillen to resign from his unpaid position as head of the presidential advisory council.

McMillen, 45, who has not responded to efforts seeking comment, released a statement Wednesday saying that he was surprised by the investigation and that he would cooperate with federal officials. Gerson declined to comment yesterday.

Neither McMillen nor any other company officer has been charged with a crime by the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, which has been handling the investigation of Complete Wellness Centers Inc. Even if a scheme to defraud the government did occur, there is no indication that McMillen had any knowledge of it.

Complete Wellness offers a blend of medical and nontraditional health care, with staff that includes medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists.

The U.S. attorney's office has been secretive about its inquiry, refusing even to confirm its existence, and the search warrants for McMillen's office were sealed. But several federal officials said that postal inspectors and investigators from the Defense Department were involved in the nine-hour search of the two-story Independence Avenue office.

Earlier yesterday, a spokeswoman for the fitness council, Joani Komlos, spoke glowingly of McMillen's service. "He's been a very active chairman," Komlos said. "We've been very pleased about his performance."

As head of the commission, McMillen, a former basketball standout and three-term Democratic congressman, represented Clinton at events throughout the East Coast that involved

athletic or health-related topics. He attended community meetings, took part in interviews with reporters and testified at congressional hearings.

Lately, Komlos said, McMillen had been particularly active in promoting the enforcement of Title IX, federal legislation that mandates equity for women's collegiate sports.

Pub Date: 11/22/97

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