Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen speaks as supporters cheer behind him at a rally at an Apple Valley Cowboy Jack’s Wednesday, May 4, 2022. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.
Scott Jensen, a Chaska doctor who is the Republican nominee for governor, is scheduled to speak at a “global health freedom summit” in Alexandria on Oct. 1, joined by some of the most prominent anti-vaccine activists in the world.
Although Jensen has denied being anti-vaccine, as of earlier this year he wasn’t vaccinated and he once referred to COVID-19 as a “mild four-day respiratory illness.” In April, he compared pandemic public health policies to Hitler’s rise and made the analogy again in a series of August statements.
Now he’s set to appear with a panel of prominent voices in the anti-vaxx movement, with tickets starting at $50.
Jensen again risks reminding Minnesota voters about his unconventional COVID-19 views and veering away from issues like crime and inflation, upon which he’d hope to compete with DFL Gov. Tim Walz.
Among the speakers at the event is Sherri Tenpenny, a Cleveland-area osteopath who testified at an Ohio state House committee hearing that the vaccine could magnetize people and interface with 5G cell phone towers.
As evidence, she pointed to pictures of people with forks and spoons sticking to their bodies.
“They can put a key on their forehead, it sticks,” she said. “They can put spoons and forks all over them, and they can stick, because now we think there’s a metal piece to that.”
The Center for Countering Digital Hate’s “Disinformation Dozen” named Tenpenny among the 12 most prolific purveyors of anti-vaxx content on Facebook and Twitter.
She has profited from her anti-vaccination work, hosting a “boot camp” where a person can pay her $623 to learn how to convince others to refuse vaccination. She’s hosted a livestreamed training event on “20 mechanisms of injury from the shots,” with platinum package tickets sold for $199. She sells books on “saying no to vaccines” for as much as $878, according to the Ohio Capital Journal.
The Alexandria event also includes Eden Prairie doctor Robert Zajac, who was disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for telling parents childhood vaccines aren’t safe. Zajac came to an agreement with the medical board last summer in which he kept his medical license and was fined $10,000. He agreed to take courses on medical ethics, communicable diseases, professional boundaries and patient communication, according to the Star Tribune.
(Jensen has said he’s been investigated five times by the medical board for his COVID-19 views and promised to change the composition of the board if elected.)
Zajac doesn’t appear to have been deterred by the medical board sanctioning: His practice’s website says he has “additional expertise in vaccine safety.”
Speaking just before Jensen at a November maskoffmn.org event, he said the leading cause of coronavirus deaths is the medical system.
“Things that might help you are being censored; things that might hurt you are being pushed, and you are one by one losing your rights to make medical decisions,” he said.
He bemoaned the pharmaceutical industry’s influence and predicted the government will start taking away children from parents who don’t vaccinate them.
Zajac also told the crowd his clinic loses $1.1 million annually by not requiring vaccinations.
Another speaker is Del Bigtree, a TV producer-turned-anti-vaxx-CEO who, like Jensen, has likened the treatment of anti-vaxxers to persecuted Jews.
Bigtree went so far as to pin a Star of David on his jacket at an anti-vaxxer event, prompting the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum to tweet: “Instrumentalizing the fate of Jews who were persecuted by hateful antisemitic ideology and murdered in extermination camps like Auschwitz with poisonous gas in order to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a symptom of intellectual and moral degeneration.”
Jensen has frequently appeared on Bigtree’s weekly anti-vaccine podcast called The Highwire, where Bigtree has accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of leading a money-making global cabal to force the COVID vaccine on everyone in the world.
Before a COVID-19 vaccine was released, Bigtree, who has no medical training, told people to infect themselves with the virus.
- Peter McCullough, a former Baylor University Medical Center cardiologist who has spread false claims about the pandemic and the efficacy of vaccines, and promoted the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.
- Joel Bohémier, a Florida chiropractor who cofounded a group called Stand for Health Freedom. He was also named one of the 12 most prolific purveyors of anti-vaccination content by The Center for Countering Digital Hate.
- KrisAnne Hall, a Florida antigovernment lawyer and activist who claims U.S. citizens do not need to comply with the government and has rubbed shoulders with the hate group Oath Keepers, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. She also compared the U.S. Capitol police to Nazi S.S. troops while promoting the “constitutional sheriff” movement, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
- Lawrence Palevsky, a New York pediatrician and anti-vaxxer who falsely claimed the vaccines contain aluminum nanoparticles that can cause neurodevelopmental problems, asthma, autism and Alzheimer’s disease. PolitiFact debunked. He also peddled false information about the COVID vaccines’ effect on women’s menstrual cycles.
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