TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas' medical board is investigating U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf's posting of X-ray images of fatal gunshot wounds and other medical injuries on a personal Facebook page.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported in a story posted online late Tuesday (http://bit.ly/WC7qN1 ) that it received a letter from a State Board of Healing Arts attorney disclosing the investigation. The newspaper first reported Wolf's postings in February.
Wolf is a Leawood radiologist who's being backed by tea party as he seeks to unseat three-term U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in the Aug. 5 Republican primary. Wolf campaign spokesman Ben Hartman blamed the board's investigation on "politically motivated" allegations circulated by Roberts' allies.
Wolf acknowledged in February that he posted the images and dark humor commentary in 2010 on a personal Facebook account, which has since been disabled. He apologized publicly, but his campaign has denied assertions in Roberts' ads that patients' privacy was violated.
The state board licenses and regulates physicians, and the initial stages of its investigations typically are confidential. But Dan Riley, disciplinary counselor for the board, sent a letter dated July 14 to the newspaper, confirming "a formal investigation to collect all the relevant information" about Wolf's postings.
Roberts has repeatedly mentioned the Facebook postings in his radio and television ads, suggesting that Wolf is dogged by ethics questions.
"Any investigation into these politically motivated charges will result in a finding that Dr. Wolf never violated patient privacy and that he remains a doctor in good standing," Hartman said.
Wolf's aggressive campaign against Roberts portrays the longtime senator as an out-of-touch career politician because of his longevity in Washington, and attacks the senator for listing rented space in a supporters' home in Dodge City as his official residence.
A Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee last week disclosed spending more than $423,000 on statewide television and radio ads attacking Roberts and argued the race was narrowing in its final weeks.
Hartman also accused board member Anne Hodgson of using her position to initiate a "misleading attack on the doctor."
Hodgson has posted comments critical of Wolf and supportive of Roberts on Facebook during the primary, but told the newspaper during an interview that she wasn't aware of any investigations involving Wolf and had removed herself from any involvement in potential complaints involving him.
Healing arts board executive director Kathleen Selzler Lippert told The Capital-Journal that its members don't become involved in individual cases until after an initial investigation by agency staff and an assessment by a medical review committee on which no board members serve. Afterward, a subcommittee of the board would review the case and decides whether a petition should be filed against the physician.
The full board would have the final say on any disciplinary action, but Lippert said members have removed themselves from cases in the past.
Kansas State Board of Healing Arts: http://www.ksbha.org/main.shtml
Wolf campaign: http://www.miltonwolf.com/
Roberts campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com/
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com