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McDaniel’s Claim Hosemann Led Abortion Clinic ‘Totally False,’ Campaign Says

Delbert Hosemann and Chris McDaniels in a side by side image
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, left, called his Republican lieutenant governor primary opponent Sen. Chris McDaniel, right, a “pathological liar” for claiming he once led an abortion clinic. Hosemann’s office shared a 1998 memo from a doctor saying he stopped providing legal services to the clinic in 1981 years before it began providing abortions. Photos Nick Judin / Chris McDaniel Campaign

Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel’s claim that Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann once led a Jackson abortion clinic is “totally false and has been rejected by every pro-life organization which has investigated it,” the incumbent’s campaign said in a statement to the Mississippi Free Press. The two are vying for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on Aug. 8.

Earlier this week, a Wisconsin-based PAC called Invest In Mississippi began running an ad claiming that Hosemann “served as the vice president of the South Jackson Women’s Clinic, an abortion clinic that has since been shuttered.”

McDaniel pointed to the clinic’s 1989 annual filing with the secretary of state’s office, which listed Dr. Larry R. Lipscomb as its president and Hosemann as its vice president.

South Jackson Women's Clinic 1989 Annual Report
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s campaign says a 1989 business filing mistakenly listed him as the vice president of the since-shuttered South Jackson Women’s Clinic. Secretary of State filing

But the filing shows that Hosemann’s name was scratched through with a pen, and his name was not included on the clinic’s subsequent 1990 annual filing.

“McDaniel is a pathological liar and a coward. He is using a newly-organized dark money PAC run by his own campaign staffers to defame me and my faith,” Hosemann, an anti-abortion Catholic, said in a statement to the Mississippi Free Press on Thursday.

The campaign provided the Mississippi Free Press with a copy of a 1998 memo Lipscomb wrote, which the Associated Press’ Michael Goldberg reported on July 19.

“Delbert Hosemann provided periodic legal services for the South Jackson Women’s Clinic from 1977-1981. At that time the Clinic provided obstetrician and gynecological services,” the doctor wrote on June 4, 1998. “These services did not include pregnancy terminations at the Clinic as the Clinic did not offer that procedure until several years later. I am saddened that his name was mistakenly listed on documents filed with the Secretary of State. This is an obvious error since Mr. Hosemann has not provided any legal services to the Clinic since 1981. We apologize for any harm this has caused Mr. Hosemann.”

Larry Lipscomb Letter 6.4.98
Dr. Larry R. Lipscomb’s 1998 memo said Delbert Hosemann provided legal services to the South Jackson Women’s Clinic from 1977-1981, but stopped before the clinic offered abortions.

When Lipscomb drafted that memo, Hosemann was facing similar accusations from opponent Phil Davis in the Republican primary for Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, as the Laurel Leader-Call reported that year. Hosemann won the nomination, but would later lose the general election to Democrat Ronnie Shows.

After Lipscomb’s letter resurfaced in the July 19 AP report, McDaniel told the Mississippi Free Press that he does not trust the doctor’s version of events.

“Frankly, I don’t trust the word or the credibility of an abortion doctor in any event. A person that would perform abortions is hardly the most credible person in the world,” the Jones County senator said, pointing again to the 1989 business filing.

“(Hosemann) called me a liar, and I’m sitting here with a document proving everything I say is accurate,” McDaniel added. “The document is there for everyone to see.”

Hosemann Requested Filings, Campaign Says

Sen. Chris McDaniel also questioned why the business filings for the South Jackson Women’s Clinic only appeared on the Secretary of State’s website this week. Before Delbert Hosemann became lieutenant governor three-and-a-half years ago, he served as secretary of state from 2008 until 2020; the current secretary of state is Michael Watson.

McDaniel implied that the documents may have “disappeared from the secretary of state’s site under Hosemann” and only “magically reappeared” after the ads launched attacking him for his past associations with the clinic.

But there is no evidence that the documents were ever in the secretary of state’s digital filings before. The Hosemann campaign told the Mississippi Free Press on Thursday that they asked the secretary of state’s office to upload the South Jackson Women’s Clinic’s filings amid attacks from the McDaniel camp.

screenshot says "SOUTH JACKSON WOMEN'S CLINIC PA" "FILED FEB 21 1990" lists only one officer: LARRY R. LIPSCOMB, M.D. 5451 ROBINSON RD. EXTN. - JACKSON MS 39204 - PRESIDENT
The South Jackson Women’s Clinic 1990 annual report did not list Delbert Hosemann as an officer. Photo Secretary of State’s office

The Mississippi Free Press contacted the secretary of state’s office to clarify the process. Mississippi Secretary of State Communications Director Elizabeth Jonson said she did not know specifically who had requested the documents uploaded, but that someone had.

“When someone asks, ‘Hey, can I see a document from 1982?’ Well, obviously, with technology back then, that was not electronically filed. All of that is on microfilm in the archives,” she said. “So we have a systematic way of trying to pull documents and get them uploaded, but clearly we cannot do that with the manpower we have to get completely up to date. So if we get requests, we grab it from the archives on microfilm and then we upload it. So that’s why those annual reports are in is because they were requested.”

Jonson said the secretary of state’s business services department uploaded the filings for the South Jackson Women’s Clinic on July 18. The only documents currently listed are the 1976 articles of incorporation, the 1989 and 1990 annual reports and a 1991 filing dissolving the business. The 1976 certificate of incorporation does not list Hosemann among its board of founding directors.

A Magnolia Tribune story on McDaniel’s accusations against Hosemann notes that there is a “13-year gap in filings” between the articles of incorporation and the 1989 annual filings. But Jonson said that is not unexpected because the Legislature did not pass the current requirements for annual reports until 1987.

“So that’s why there’s only an annual report uploaded starting in 1989. … It’s not that anything’s missing; they weren’t required until that time frame,” she said. Jonson also said that the mark scratching out Hosemann’s name from the 1989 annual report would have been on the microfilm copy, not added later.

The Mississippi Free Press asked her if it was possible, as McDaniel suggested, that the filings could have previously been available on the secretary of state’s website and later removed.

“Once stuff is up, we don’t take things down. Even if somebody wants to change documents now, they would have to amend it,” Jonson said. When a document is amended, the original document remains on the site alongside the amended version.

She said the secretary of state’s office did not begin scanning and uploading filings to the website until 1995 and only began requiring electronic filing in 2015.

Anti-Abortion Group Defends Hosemann

The Alexandria, Va.,-based National Right to Life Committee endorsed Hosemann’s reelection bid on July 5, describing him as “deeply committed to building a culture of life.” On Thursday, his campaign shared a statement with the Mississippi Free Press from the organization’s president, Carol Tobias.

“Delbert Hosemann is a long-time pro-life champion and it’s ridiculous to question his commitment to vulnerable pre-born children,” the anti-abortion leader said. “He has a proven record of demonstrating his staunch support for the right to life.”

Jackson Women's Health Organization - Mississippi Free Press
Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, closed its doors in July 2022 after the state’s near-total abortion ban took effect following the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Sen. Chris McDaniel both praised the decision. Photo by Ashton Pittman

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic closed its doors in July 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization allowed the state’s near-total abortion ban to go into effect. Since then, pregnant Mississippians like a teen rape victim have had to travel hundreds of miles across state lines to access abortion care.

Hosemann praised the ruling in a June 24, 2022 statement, saying it returned “the right to protect the unborn to the states.”

“In addition to protecting the unborn, we must also focus on other ways to support women, children, and families,” he said at the time.

McDaniel similarly celebrated the Dobbs decision that day. “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” he wrote. “With the Court’s decision today, the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives, where it belongs.”

Voters who were registered to vote by July 10 can choose to vote on Aug. 8, 2023, in either the Republican or Democratic primaries, where they will select nominees for all statewide and legislative offices. The general election will follow on Nov. 7, 2023.

Voters should bring an accepted form of voter ID to the polls or may have to cast an affidavit ballot; those without an accepted form of ID can obtain a free voter ID from their county circuit clerk’s office.

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