- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The trial for former political candidate Annette Bosworth is slated begin this week over alleged election law violations during the 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Bosworth, 43, has pleaded not guilty to six counts each of perjury and filing false documents. The Sioux Falls physician has said she’s the target of “political persecution” and has denied any criminal intent to deceive.

“There’s no deal that will take away any of the felonies, so of course it’s going to trial,” Bosworth told The Associated Press in a recent interview. She later referred requests for comment to her attorney, Bob Van Norman, who didn’t return multiple messages.

Jury selection is expected to begin Monday and testimony could begin Wednesday.

Here are three things to consider about the case:

PRIMARY LOSS

Bosworth received 6 percent of the vote in the June 3, 2014, five-way primary for the Republican nomination, and learned of her loss on national television.

Attorney General Marty Jackley filed charges against Bosworth the next day. Former Secretary of State Jason Gant had asked Jackley to investigate Bosworth for allegedly being out of the country during a time when her petitions to get on the ballot say she was gathering signatures.

According to an arrest affidavit, Bosworth attested to personally gathering signatures when she was on a publicized medical mission trip in the Philippines. She also attested to gathering signatures on some Hutterite colonies, but residents interviewed said she was not there when they signed.

SYMPATHETIC REPORT

A report this month from the Virginia-based Citizens in Charge Foundation, a voter initiative and referendum advocacy group, argues that Bosworth’s prosecution is too harsh and could dissuade potential candidates from participating in the political process.

Group president Paul Jacob questioned whether the South Dakota attorney general’s office has a personal or political problem with Bosworth.

Jackley said that’s “absolutely” not the case. He said he waited until after the election to file charges.

“This prosecution has simply been under the rule of the law and the letter of the law,” Jackley said.

CHANGES TO ELECTION LAWS

The cases of Bosworth and former independent candidate Clayton Walker, who faces similar accusations, spurred election law changes during the 2015 legislative session. The changes were proposed by Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and eventually signed into law.

Krebs pushed a measure to allow the secretary of state’s office to audit a random sample of voter signatures from statewide candidates’ petitions.

Lawmakers also approved a provision designating a “drop-dead” date for citizens to begin a court challenge of a nominating petition, meant to ensure such challenges can be resolved with enough time for the state to print absentee ballots. A measure to allow citizens more time to challenge a petition by moving up the candidate filing deadline also passed, but could be referred to the 2016 ballot by activists.

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