A candidate who finished fourth in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota was charged on Wednesday with violating campaign election laws, prosecutors said.
Annette Bosworth, 42, a doctor from Sioux Falls, was charged with six counts each of perjury and filing false documents and accused of falsely claiming she was gathering nominating petition signatures in South Dakota when she was really in the Philippines, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office said.
Clayton Walker, 33, of Rapid City, also faces six counts each of perjury and filing false documents. Walker had been running an independent campaign for the U.S. Senate seat, but had been removed from the November ballot after a challenge to his nominating petitions.
"The election complaints received by the Secretary of State involve conduct that is serious, deliberate and must be addressed in order to preserve the integrity of our elections," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement.
Mike Rounds, a former two-term governor, won Tuesday's Republican primary with more than 55 percent of the vote. Bosworth finished fourth with 5.75 percent. Rounds will face Democrat Rick Weiland in the November election.
In a news conference posted on the Argus Leader newspaper's website, Bosworth said there was no criminal intent to deceive. She said she believed the charges were a "political prosecution" by Jackley, a Republican, who had been appointed by Rounds.
Reuters was not able to reach Bosworth through a phone number associated with her Senate campaign.
Each of the felony charges carries a possible maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine, the attorney general's office said.
An initial court date was scheduled for June 23.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)