Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

We all know that political and notable figures of all kinds have the ultimate “out” available when being asked questions of substance by authorities. They can just invoke the Fifth Amendment. 

That’s the famous mechanism that allows Americans to decline to answer questions without repercussions that could incriminate them.

Last week, Donald Trump reportedly pleaded the Fifth close to 450 times in four hours. But he certainly isn’t the only one to take the Fifth, not by a long shot. 

Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli, pretty much the most hated man in America as far as I’m concerned, invoked the Fifth Amendment during a Congressional hearing in 2016 on his former company’s decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine to pretty much unaffordable, make-yourself-bankrupt-or-die kind of pricing.  

Barry Cadden, the co-owner of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that was blamed for a fungal meningitis outbreak that claimed the lives of dozens of people in 2012, refused to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. He just pled the Fifth repeatedly.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashed a party at the White House in 2009 and later pleaded the Fifth. The Salahis made headlines when they sneaked into a party at the White House and slipped past two security checkpoints, entered the president’s home and even met him. The incident led to numerous investigations.

Monica Goodling, the senior counsel to then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales, was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2007 to be questioned about her role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Emails released by the justice department suggested the attorneys were fired for political reasons. She pleaded the Fifth and resigned shortly thereafter.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire pled the Fifth in 2005 when a House committee subpoenaed him and 11 other players during an investigation on steroid use in baseball. McGwire, who held the single-season home run record at 70 in 1998, invoked his Fifth Amendment rights repeatedly. 

In September 2004, lobbyist Jack Abramoff invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when called before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and asked about his lobbying work on behalf of indigenous American tribes and casinos. This scandal related to indigenous American tribes who were seeking to develop casino gambling on their reservations. The lobbyists charged the tribes an estimated $85 million in fees. Abramoff and his partner Scanlon grossly overbilled their clients, secretly splitting the multimillion dollar profits. In one case, they actually orchestrated lobbying against their own clients in order to force their clients to pay for lobbying services.

Enron chairman Kenneth Lay pleaded the Fifth in 2002 when he appeared before Congress over a stock market scandal. Lay told Congress that he wanted to tell his story after the company’s sudden financial collapse. But he quickly changed his mind and pleaded the Fifth when he was called before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Lt. Col. Oliver North invoked the Fifth Amendment during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987. However, Col. North would later testify before a joint congressional committee, where he admitted to lying about the controversy.

Mark Fuhrman, the former Los Angeles police detective who was a chief witness against O.J. Simpson, pleaded the Fifth during the trial. Fuhrman was asked point-blank whether he planted evidence against O.J. Simpson. He refused to answer, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo, reputed head of a national crime syndicate, pleaded the Fifth repeatedly in the spring of 1958 when he was investigated for income tax fraud. The McClellan Committee investigation of organized crime subpoenaed Accardo. Appearing before the committee, he gave only his name and address and invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent 172 times.

So, wouldn’t it be great if when we’re in the middle of any survey and when the surveyors ask us questions, we could just invoke the Fifth Amendment? Like, how fun would that be? 

“Do you have enough staff?”

“I’d like to invoke my Fifth Amendment right.”

“What happens when there is a call-off? How do they get replaced?”

“I’ll plead the Fifth.”

“How many residents in your facility have nosocomial wounds?”

“I’ll take the Fifth.”

“How many residents in your facility have nosocomial infections?”

“I’ll plead the Fifth.”

Why am I writing this blog that’s only slightly related to long-term care, you ask? I think I’ll just plead the Fifth!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.