- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Former South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth plans to appeal to the state Supreme court over her conviction for election law violations, her attorney said Thursday.

Bob Van Norman, an attorney for the 43-year-old Sioux Falls physician, said she will appeal to the high court after her expected sentencing in July. A jury found Bosworth guilty Wednesday of six counts each of perjury and filing false documents. The charges stemmed from mishandling her candidate petitions for the 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Bosworth faces a maximum punishment of 24 years in prison and $48,000 in fines. Attorney General Marty Jackley has said prosecutors will review mitigating and aggravating circumstances before making a sentencing recommendation.

Van Norman said the defense will push for a sentence that would allow the conviction to disappear if Bosworth successfully completes probation. He said he plans to bring up the “political context this all arose in” during the sentencing process. Bosworth has said she’s been the target of “political persecution” from the attorney general’s office in her case.

But Jackley said in a recent interview that the “prosecution has simply been under the rule of the law and the letter of the law.”

Bosworth’s husband, Chad Haber, unsuccessfully ran against Jackley in the 2014 election as a Libertarian.

Van Norman said Bosworth is guaranteed an appeal to the Supreme Court after sentencing.

Bosworth admitted that she didn’t personally gather some signatures on her nominating documents, despite attesting on the petitions that she had witnessed people signing them. Under state law, the person circulating petitions must witness the signings from registered voters.

Bosworth’s defense team argued during the trial that she was a rookie candidate who knows more about medicine than politics and said that her actions were a mistake.

“She is devastated,” Van Norman said on Thursday.

The convictions could also jeopardize Bosworth’s medical license.

“I am going to miss being a doctor,” Bosworth told The Associated Press in a text message. “I really love being a doctor.”

Margaret Hansen, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners, declined in an email to speak specifically about Bosworth’s case.

But she said generally a felony conviction could be grounds for revocation of a license, though it “is not an automatic disqualifier.”

There have been two cases of physicians convicted of felonies before the board over the past five years, and the board revoked both of the physicians’ licenses, she said.

Political activists who have watched Bosworth’s case have mixed views about its potential political effects in South Dakota.

Drake Olson, vice chairman of the state Republican Party, said the party doesn’t get involved in primary elections, where Bosworth’s problems occurred.

Ann Tornberg, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said she’s concerned with election law changes that came about in part as an “overreaction” to Bosworth’s case. But she said the conviction likely wouldn’t discourage candidates from running.

Cory Heidelberger, a liberal blogger and activist who challenged Bosworth’s nominating documents, said he’s noticed the trial has made people pay more attention.

“This trial has raised awareness,” he said. “Regular folks on the street understand the petition process a little better.”

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