An investigation by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Special Investigations Bureau found that the state's former vaccine chief, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, purchased the dog muzzle that she and her husband claimed someone had mailed her in an attempt to intimidate her.
Fiscus, who was the state's medical director of vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization for two years, said she was fired in July as the Tennessee Department of Health faced increasing pressure from state Republicans over her department's efforts to push COVID-19 vaccinations among teenagers.
However, the Tennessee health department, released a July memo stating Fiscus' termination stemmed from multiple conduct issuesâincluding her alleged attempts to divert state funding to a nonprofit she founded. Fiscus has denied these allegations.
Fiscus Said Dog Muzzle was Mailed to Her As a Threat
Immediately following her sacking, she went public with accusations against the governor and state health officials, claiming she was fired as a scapegoat to appease lawmakers. At the time, she and her husband claimed the muzzle was sent anonymously to her state office through Amazon shortly before her firing.
Fiscus even shared images of the said muzzle and said she felt the muzzle was a threat to get her to "stop talking about vaccinating people."
Purchase Linked to Fiscus' Credit Card
An investigation was launched after health department official Paul Peterson alerted the Department of Safety about the apparent threat to Fiscus. Investigators subpoenaed records from Amazon and found that the purchase of the muzzle was linked to an American Express credit card registered under Fiscus' name on Amazon, according to an investigation report obtained by Axios.
"There is no evidence to indicate that the dog muzzle was intended to threaten Dr. Fiscus," Special Agent Mario Vigil wrote in a memo for the investigation that closed on Monday, as reported by The Tennessean.
Fiscus Claims Purchase was Made Using a WA-Based Amazon Account in Her Name
On Monday, Fiscus took to Twitter to respond to the investigation's finding over the muzzle, stating that she asked "Homeland Security to investigate the origin" of the Amazon package and did not send herself the leather contraption.
"Just provided a redacted HS report by Axios Nashville. Report says a second account was made under my name from a phone in WA? Waiting on unredacted report. Hold tight. No, I didn't send it to myself," she wrote.
Fiscus added that the investigation did not conclude that she sent the muzzle. "That account was apparently accessed from the State of Washington, where I had never been, by a cell phone using a carrier I have never used. I have asked the state for the full unredacted report and am awaiting a response," she added.