Scott Jensen is going to war with his local medical board. The family practice physician, now Republican gubernatorial candidate, is vowing to retaliate against the organization that oversees doctors in the state of Minnesota now that the board is investigating him for the fifth time.
Jensen is known as an avid COVID-19 skeptic and has come under fire for touting unproven treatment methods like ivermectin. After winning the GOP nomination for governor, he criticized the board on Monday during a campaign event. His team later posted a video of the rally on Twitter.
Jensen said all five investigations into his practice were the result of anonymous tips and that he has cooperated with the board so far but has heard nothing back.
“I should not have to practice medicine, or run for governor, with this cloud of, if you will, uncertainty hanging over my head,” Jensen said in the video. “And yet that’s what I’m doing. I’m living with that. This is crippling to a physician to be under investigation.”
He noted that he would be able to appoint new members of the board if elected governor of Minnesota this fall and that he plans on reigning in what he described as a “massive, inexorable force” that has turned on him for political reasons.
“And I said this juggernaut will be dealt with,” he told his supporters. “I will not stand for the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice being weaponized.”
“Is this intentional? Is this political? I understand that the board is being weaponized, but I think the board owes me some dignity and courtesy,” he added.
The current board is made up of 16 members, including several physicians, members of the public, and an osteopath. All members can serve up to two consecutive four-year terms. They were all appointed by democratic governors and nine seats are up for appointment or reappointment during the next gubernatorial term.
The board cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
“The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice investigates complaints as required by and in accordance with state laws and rules,” its executive director, Ruth Martinez, said in an email. “The Board does not have a response to Dr. Jensen’s comments.”
Jensen claims that the four preceding investigations against him were all dismissed without disciplinary action.
His comments caught the attention of the Minnesota Medical Association, which defended the board.
“Its duty is to protect the public and is required by law to investigate any complaint it receives, while ensuring due process for physicians,” the group’s president, Dr. Randy Rice, said in a statement. “The MMA opposes any efforts to politicize the work or the membership of the Board.”
The state’s democratic party criticized the physician’s comments as well.
“These despicable remarks are disqualifying,” Ken Martin, the state Democratic Party chairman, said in a statement. “Anyone who repeatedly promises to use the governor’s office to jail or fire their personal enemies is unfit for public service. The doctors who serve on the board investigating Scott Jensen are not anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, which is what makes them different from him. Scott Jensen’s extremism and disturbing enthusiasm for political retaliation don’t belong anywhere near the governor’s office.”
Jensen has denied the existence of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. He recently confirmed to a reporter that he is not vaccinated even though he continues to see patients. He maintained that he doesn’t need to get vaccinated because he has natural immunity after getting infected with the virus in 2020, which goes against the latest health recommendations.
Joel Wu, a medical ethicist at the University of Minnesota, said Jenson’s comments damaged the credibility of the state’s medical board by spreading the false belief that it can be used for political purposes instead of fulfilling its duty to protect the public.
“The right for doctors to do what patients want isn’t unconstrained and isn’t unlimited,” Wu said. “Doctors don’t have the right to provide treatments that are illegal, to provide treatments that are unsubstantiated, harmful or ineffective.”
The board’s decision could affect the outcome of the state’s race for governor. Jensen will face incumbent Gov. Tim Waltz this November.