Republicans have criticized Sixth Congressional District candidate Matt Longjohn, who is running against Republican incumbent Fred Upton, for calling himself a doctor even though he's not licensed to practice medicine in Michigan. But Longjohn says he's never misrepresented his medical credentials.
"I am an M.D., I am a physician, I'm a doctor," Longjohn told reporters on Monday at his campaign headquarters in Kalamazoo, adding that he has never claimed that he holds a license to practice in Michigan.
A complaint filed with state regulatory officials last week alleges that Longjohn is breaking state law by using those terms when he doesn't have a license to practice in the state. Michigan Republican Party Deputy Communications Director Tony Zammit says the complaint is based on a state law that prohibits unlicensed individuals from using "an insignia, title, or letter...under a circumstance to induce the belief that the person is licensed or registered in the state."
"According to Michigan law you can’t misrepresent the fact that you don’t have a license, and if you look at even Mr. Longjohn’s lawn signs he prominently puts M.D. on there along with a heart monitor line," he said.
Longjohn says he's never claimed he was licensed to practice medicine in Michigan. But Longjohn, who has focused his career on public health, does hold a Doctor of Medicine degree.
"I walked across the stage in 1999, as a single dad, actually carrying my son to earn my medical degree at Tulane University. I am a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine," he said.
Longjohn also cited state law, which he says protects his use of the terms "doctor," "MD" and "physician." Section 16264 of the Public Health Code allows a person to "use the insignia, titles, letters or phrases as granted to the individual" by "an authorized educational program or institution."
A spokesperson for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says LARA has referred the complaint against Longjohn to the state Board of Medicine, which will decide whether the agency should investigate.