Bosworth battles scandal in bid for Senate
Editor's note: This is the first installment of a series of five profiles on the candidates running in the June 3 primary for South Dakota's Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
As one of five candidates seeking South Dakota's Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Dr. Annette Bosworth has had her name and face in plenty of news reports in recent weeks.
Most of it hasn't been coverage she has sought.
Bosworth, 42, has been accused of inaccurately filling out her nominating petitions -- the Attorney General's Office is investigating -- and former employees of her medical clinic and campaign have claimed she hasn't paid them fully.
Bosworth declined to discuss the specifics of these allegations in a recent interview with The Daily Republic, except calling them "politics as usual" and unjustified attacks on "an authentic leader who hasn't carried water for the establishment."
Instead, she longs to talk about her dislike of Obamacare and the wild success of her campaign's Facebook page. She and her husband manage the page and have parlayed 145,000 likes -- and growing daily -- into more than 3.5 million Facebookers talking about her.
"It's an incredible tool," she said of Facebook but declined to divulge her campaign's strategy.
Bosworth credits Facebook in part for another striking success for her campaign. As of March 31, she has raised more than $1.1 million, 71 percent of it in small contributions, putting her war chest second behind former Gov. Mike Rounds and more than $1 million ahead of the other Republicans on the June 3 primary ballot -- state Rep. Stace Nelson, state Sen. Larry Rhoden and Yankton lawyer Jason Ravnsborg.
Bosworth was raised on a farm near Plankinton and graduated from medical school in 1998. She and husband Chad Haber have three sons -- Prescott, 13, Walker, 10 and Chancellor, 8.
While her medical career is a huge part of her campaign message, that career hit a rough patch in about 2009, when, according to records made public through the South Dakota State Medical Association, she was required to seek mental health therapy in order to keep her medical license.
The ordeal dragged on for three years and appears to have concluded after a public hearing in November 2012 held to force Bosworth to sign agreements giving the state board of medical examiners access to information about her ongoing treatment.
Bosworth discusses the disciplinary action against her on her campaign website, writing in part:
"Without restraint, powerful government bureaucrats unjustly attacked her. They tried to impose their will on her, threatening to take her medical license away. It was a deeply personal attack on a doctor with a stellar record of putting patients first and saving the government money, but she fought back.
"To pay the mounting legal bills and to keep her medical clinic open, Annette and her husband sold nearly all their material possessions, including their home. The pain of their choice to stand up against big government impacted them personally. With options limited, they moved their three young children into an RV donated to them by their church. ... She believes God is calling her to serve a higher purpose and to fight back against an intrusive federal government."
Bosworth applies her distrust of "intrusive government" just as passionately to President Obama's health insurance reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare." She said it was at a meeting of South Dakota physicians where she felt the desire to seek public office as a way to fight the Affordable Care Act.
"Last year I was in a meeting with the doctors of South Dakota, and there was a poll done asking doctors, 'Would you recommend to your children that they go into medicine?' " Bosworth said. "The typical response in past polls is somewhere in the high 80 percent range. This past year it was 15 percent."
Bosworth said her colleagues were looking for cover or for an exit.
"At breaks, all they could talk about is how quickly they will be getting out. Or, become an employed physician is the only answer," she said. "If not me, then who would stand up in the name of patient care and health care delivery and big government telling us how to run our industry?
"I've stood up to big government."
Voters will select one of the five Republican candidates running in the June 3 primary to move on to the general election, held in November. Other candidates to file for the race are independents Clayton Walker, Gordon Howie and former U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler and Democrat Rick Weiland.