Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen filed separate lawsuits Tuesday against the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and Attorney General Keith Ellison, alleging they worked together on "politically motivated" investigations into his medical license.
Jensen, a Chaska physician, said he was repeatedly investigated by the medical board for public statements he made about COVID-19, and all complaints were later dismissed.
Those statements included comments encouraging civil disobedience against vaccine mandates, opposing children wearing masks in schools and vowing to reshape the board if elected governor.
Jensen accused the board of attempting to chill his speech and said it should not have begun investigations into his medical license over his political statements.
He questioned whether the probes hurt his unsuccessful campaign against DFL Gov. Tim Walz last year, noting that Walz used the investigations to attack him.
"I think it cost me dearly from a reputational standpoint, potentially impacting somewhat on the governor's race. We'll never know that," Jensen said during a news conference. "In the end, I think it was about bullying. … It was about, if you dare to disagree, you're in trouble."
The lawsuit against the board says the investigations revolved around Jensen's public statements, not his patient care or treatment.
The board did not respond to a request for comment.
In his suit against Ellison, Jensen alleges that the Attorney General's Office "intentionally withheld" public data that should have been released to him in response to a Data Practices Act request.
The office told Jensen it withheld a small set of data about some of its individual employees because "staff have received harassing and/or threatening calls following posts by Dr. Jensen on social media," according to the lawsuit.
If Jensen were to publicize that data on social media, the office said it "would likely substantially jeopardize the security of individuals and subject staff to harassment and/or threats by followers/viewers."
John Stiles, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, on Tuesday defended the handling of Jensen's data request.
"The Attorney General's Office takes its responsibilities under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act seriously — and fulfilled them in responding to Dr. Jensen's data request," Stiles said. "The Office gave Dr. Jensen nearly 1,800 responsive documents.
"It also withheld other data that fell within categories that the law authorizes the Office to withhold. This lawsuit is without merit, and the Office will respond fully in court."
Jensen and his attorneys seek damages from the medical board and want a judge to prohibit it from further investigating his "protected First Amendment speech."
They're also asking a judge to order Ellison's office to immediately release the withheld data.