Scott Jensen vows to shake up medical board that's investigated him

Republican governor candidate Dr. Scott Jensen is promising to overhaul Minnesota's medical board if he wins office, frustrated by the panel's investigations of his medical license.

Jensen, a family physician from Chaska, said he's facing a fifth investigation from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. They relate to his skepticism of the COVID-19 pandemic and opposition to mask and vaccine mandates, he said.

"If I’m governor, I get to appoint people to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. I said, this juggernaut will be dealt with," Jensen said in a social media video posted Thursday night.

Jensen's video echoes comments that he made during a campaign event in Spicer earlier this week. "If I get elected in November, do you think their jobs are secure? I get to appoint them," Jensen said of the board members, according to audio of the event circulated by the Minnesota DFL.

If elected, Jensen's career would create a unique scenario: his medical license would be overseen by a regulatory board whose members he'd have the power to appoint as governor. 

Minnesota's governor appoints all 16 members of the Board of Medical Practice, 11 of whom must be physicians. Several board members have expiring terms this year and next. State law also gives the governor power to remove members "for cause after notice and hearing."

Jensen is the presumptive Republican opponent of DFL Gov. Tim Walz this fall, and both campaigns have turned up the heat in recent days. Wednesday, online prognosticator Real Clear Politics moved the race to tossup status.

Democrats said Jensen's comments about the Board of Medical Practice amounted to political retaliation against board members who have nothing to do with the election.

"Scott Jensen’s extremism and disturbing enthusiasm for political retaliation don’t belong anywhere near the governor’s office," DFL Chairman Ken Martin said in an emailed statement Friday.

Ruth Martinez, the medical board's executive director, declined to confirm the status or number of complaints made against Jensen. Complaints and closed cases are not public data, she said.

The board has not taken disciplinary action against Jensen, she said.

In his social media video, Jensen said he responded to a board's inquiry about the most recent anonymously filed complaint. But the board hasn't followed up in the past 100 days, he said.

Jensen's medical license will remain under board oversight if he wins office this year because he's said he will keep seeing patients.

"I’ve already cut back, and I continue to modify. As governor, I will not completely stop seeing patients. I will find time in my schedule, whether it be 2-3 hours once or twice a week," Jensen said in an interview with FOX 9 in May. "But one way or another, these people I’ve grown old with for the last 40 years, these are the people who ground me and give me shape to my thoughts. The last thing I’m going to do is insulate myself from those folks and instead embrace a bunch of politicians. I think that’s what we get what we get."