Doctor running for Minn. governor faces repeated medical license investigations for COVID views
Dr. Scott Jensen has been subject to four investigations since he first questioned changes to death-certificate reporting. Each exonerated him — and now he's facing a fifth.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
- Family Doctor of the Year
- media attention in the pandemic's early days
- Minnesota surgeon Jeffrey Horak
- Jensen told the rally
- under review for "unprofessional conduct
- They apologized
- KTSP reported
- Jensen's contemporaneous video
- Oct. 26 video
Minnesota doctor Scott Jensen faced three threats to his medical license in the first year of the pandemic for his vocal criticism of COVID-19 policies and statistical practices.
Two more complaints to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice have been filed, most recently this month, since the former state senator announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tim Walz in 2022.
None has resulted in any "disciplinary" or "corrective" action against his license, as confirmed by the board's public record for Jensen.
The repeated investigations have not dissuaded 2016's "Family Doctor of the Year" from speaking out against everything from COVID vaccine and mask mandates to COVID-specific changes in death-certificate reporting, which first brought him media attention in the pandemic's early days.
Jensen has had about a dozen rallies in the past two months, he told Just the News in a phone interview Thursday as he barnstormed the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
He recently spoke at a rally for Minnesota surgeon Jeffrey Horak, who opposed mask mandates at a school board meeting and was fired nine days later for unspecified views that were "no longer congruent" with Lake Region Medical Group.
"To the people who told Jeff Horak that he doesn't get to articulate his science-based opinion ... his voice is not going to be silenced," Jensen told the rally.
The Board of Medical Practice has been "weaponized into a tool" by anonymous critics who "don't like my agenda" and are upset that "I don't quite buy everything the official line is selling," Jensen told Just the News.
"I've had doctors contact me from all over the country when they got in trouble" for sharing similar viewpoints, he said. Horak was recommended to him by a Nebraska physician Jensen had previously advised.
As a "relatively calm person who's not a hothead," Jensen tells them to avoid name-calling, "keep their equilibrium about them and understand the other person's perspective," even if that person is trying to harm their professional lives.
But Jensen said he's not actively involved in doctors' groups broadly challenging COVID policies and promoting treatments frowned upon by the medical establishment, such as America's Frontline Doctors. He's simply "in conversations" with such groups.
He's far from alone in facing threats to his medical license for challenging COVID conventional wisdom.
This summer, Illinois authorities notified Jeremy Henrichs that his license was under review for "unprofessional conduct" after the school board member opposed Gov. J.B. Pritzker's mask mandate for schools. They apologized after a public outcry, recommending no action against Henrichs.
Asked if the Minnesota board could dismiss complaints without merit before a full investigation, Executive Director Ruth Martinez told Just the News that under state law she couldn't even confirm any investigation had been opened. KTSP reported the board confirmed the first investigation in July 2020, however.
Jensen shared his eight-page response to those allegations with Just the News, saying it was the longest he's written. He was a state senator at the time but didn't run for reelection last year.
The complainant claimed he was spreading "misinformation" by saying the state health department "instructed" providers to list COVID as the cause of death on death certificates, and provided "reckless advice" about COVID on social media, comparing it to influenza.
What he actually said on KXJB was that the April 3 memo from health authorities "contradicts CDC instructions" by telling physicians to report COVID on death certificates even when it only "contributed" to death.
In the theoretical case of an AIDS patient who contracts pneumonia and is placed in hospice care, where he tests positive for COVID, this practice would lead to COVID being counted as the "underlying cause of death," not the HIV that triggered AIDS, he wrote July 2.
Jensen assailed the vagueness of the "reckless" social media charge but defended his "specific contextual comparisons between influenza outbreaks and COVID-19" on several metrics, noting the CDC itself said COVID for "many people" is "a little bit like having the flu."
The complaint was dismissed late that month, according to Jensen's contemporaneous video. "The cancel culture, the muzzling, the intolerance to a contrarian viewpoint — this time around you didn't win," he said.
His critics wouldn't win the next three investigations either, though each has tried Jensen's patience, taking six weeks to three months before exonerating him, he told Just the News.
None has gone farther than his response to the board's notice of allegations, which is then reviewed by a committee that does not provide updates. "You're just in the dark about it" until the conclusion, he said. "You're sitting on pins and needles."
The most recent complaint, from which Jensen paraphrased in an Oct. 26 video, came after he publicly defended Horak.
Jensen was accused of promoting "civil disobedience" against President Biden's proposed employer vaccine mandate, but Biden "never followed up" with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "So what we have is a press conference."
Regarding his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID, he said he has a "plethora of antibodies because I recovered from COVID." (He told Just the News he also donated plasma after recovering.) "I'm entitled to my opinion" against forcing children to wear masks in schools, but school boards make those decisions.
He's accused of "politicizing public health," yet White House COVID advisors Anthony Fauci and Michael Osterholm "all of a sudden get religion and wear masks" after initially telling Americans they don't work. The new conventional wisdom on masks contradicts nearly 20 years of research, Jensen said.
He told Just the News he's made a video in response to each investigation because "I do not want anyone sneaking up on me" before he can respond, but he hasn't shared every notice or response he's given.
Partly that's because some of the accusations are from social media screenshots where the user could be identified and harassed, but Jensen also said he doesn't want "tens of thousands of people picking me apart" using the documents.