The State Medical Board of Ohio is threatening to limit, suspend, or even permanently revoke the medical license of Sherri Tenpenny, the infamous anti-vaccine doctor who made headlines last year for falsely testifying to state lawmakers that COVID-19 vaccinations make people magnetic—among espousing other nonsensical anti-vaccine-related conspiracy theories.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the Internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” Tenpenny said in her viral testimony. “You can put a key on their forehead—it sticks. You can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.”
She went on to suggest that there may be an “interface—yet to be defined” between the components of lifesaving vaccines and “all of the 5G towers.” She added that the connection is “not proven yet” but that “we’re trying to figure [it] out.”
That bizarre testimony was given on June 8, 2021. About a month later, on July 14, an investigator for the state medical board showed up at Tenpenny’s medical office wanting to ask her some questions, according to a letter from the state medical board, which was dated September 14, 2022.
The medical board has not disclosed what the investigator was there to ask Tenpenny or why she was under investigation. However, it’s hard to imagine that magnetism wouldn’t come up in the conversation.
That conversation never happened, though, as the medical board’s September letter outlines. Tenpenny was not at her office when the investigator showed up and did not respond to his request for a follow-up or to a subsequent email. But the board’s investigation continued, and on September 7, 2021, the board sent Tenpenny a certified letter containing written questions. Her lawyer sent a letter back to the board later that month saying that Tenpenny “did not believe that the Board had a lawful basis” for sending the questions and would refuse to answer any.
In October, the board tried again, issuing a subpoena for Tenpenny to show up to an investigatory deposition on November 3. Tenpenny did not attend. Finally, in June of this year, the board tried again to summon Tenpenny for an “investigative office conference,” but she responded that she did not believe the investigation had a “lawful basis” and failed to appear.
Regardless of the subject or findings of the investigation, the board determined that Tenpenny’s failure to cooperate with the investigation was a grave violation on its own. As such, they notified her that her license is now at stake. The board can issue a reprimand or probation, or it can limit or revoke her license, which was renewed last September amid the investigation.
Tenpenny has the option to request a hearing, which she reportedly has, though the date of the hearing is not yet set. The board, however, seemed to include a stark warning about the hearing request in their letter, writing:
Please note that, whether or not you request a hearing, Section 4731.22(L), Ohio Revised Code provides that ‘[w]hen the board refuses to grant or issue a license or certificate to practice to an applicant, [or] revokes an individual’s license or certificate to practice … the board may specify that its action is permanent. An individual subject to a permanent action taken by the board is forever thereafter ineligible to hold a license or certificate to practice…’
Whether the board will take such a permanent action remains to be determined.
Since Tenpenny originally made national headlines with her claims of magnetic people, she has continued to spread anti-vaccine disinformation, as well as other conspiracy theories and QAnon-connected rhetoric.
The bill that Tenpenny’s nonsense testimony supported, HB 248, which would broadly ban vaccine mandates in the state, remains stalled in committee.