Jack Shepard seems willing to do anything to clear his name. Even run for president.
The former Minnesota dentist’s situation is complicated. Back in 1982, he was facing arson charges for allegedly trying to burn down his own office. (This was after he’d already pleaded guilty to felonies for criminal sexual conduct and drug possession, and done time at Stillwater state prison, according to the Pioneer Press.)
But he never answered to those charges, because he skipped town and headed to Rome, where he still lives today. He told the Press years ago that the charges were based on a misunderstanding. He was “dehydrated from heavy exercise” while he was taking his court-ordered lithium.
“That may have contributed to some heavy mood swings and manic periods, though he’s not confirming or denying he actually committed the arson he’s accused of,” the Press said.
Though he’s far away, Shepard is still very much involved with proceedings at home. Every few years, he runs for office.
In 2004, when he was running for Congress as a Republican, then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer attempted to kick him off the primary ballot, reportedly for all the “alleged fugitive felon” stuff. The Minnesota Supreme Court reinserted him, only for him to get trounced by Republican candidate Patrice Bataglia.
In 2006, he ran again—still as a Republican—and switched over to a Senate bid in 2008. He never got far. Neither did his brief presidential bid in the New Hampshire primary later that year. In 2010, his next congressional run, he had a platform involving “the legalization of medical marijuana,” and “immediate” criminal justice system reform regarding the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. That didn’t work either.
In 2012, he made another Senate bid—this time as a Democrat. He swore on his website he was “the only candidate who really can eliminate Amy Klobuchar.” He also sent MinnPost an email reasserting his lithium defense, in which he described himself as a practicing dentist, a father of two teens, and “a Jew talking to Arab’s [sic] about peace.” Klobuchar beat him pretty handily.
In 2014, he tried again, this time seeking the Minnesota Independence Party’s nomination. They gave it to Steve Carlson instead.
This year, for his grand return to the presidential arena, he’s running as a Democrat. He got back in touch with the Press to say he chose his designated party because “Trump is doing everybody wrong” and that his Democratic rivals seem to lack “sufficient military or foreign policy experience” to win.
He also told the Press that if he’s elected, it’s possible he couldn’t be tried for those old arson charges. Because, “as President Donald Trump’s lawyer argued in a federal court last month,” a president cannot be prosecuted for a crime.
Shepard himself denies having done anything wrong back in the states -- saying he never had sex with the woman involved in those criminal sexual conduct charges, and that a dentist licensed to use narcotics should be expected to have drugs in his possession. In all his years practicing in Europe, he says, he's never gotten into trouble with the law -- and adds that there's no warrant currently out for those arson charges.
The long in short of it is that he's 73 years old, he says. This is probably going to be his last run for office, and seeing those same old headlines reappear from his struggles with the law has been "depressing."
"It's just disgusting, because this is my last chance to clear my name," he says. He hopes maybe by running against Trump, he can somehow get the president's attention, and he'll be hired to "finish [his] mission" in life: making peace in the Middle East.
Who knows? Maybe this is Shepard’s year, and he’ll earn himself a ticket home. Sure, it seems unlikely based on his track record, but if recent years have taught us anything, pretty much anybody can be president—no matter what they’ve allegedly done.