Tag Archives: Scott DesJarlais

Could ‘blowout’ budget vote attract tea party challengers?

Some Tennesseans are making noises about far-right challenges to Republican members of Congress who voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, according to this report.

Taking on all of the Republicans who voted for the compromise seems like a tall order. Almost all of the yes votes belong to very safe incumbents; but that doesn’t mean some won’t try. (And, for the record, they should, if so inclined.)

Bonus theory: The votes by U.S. Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais, though opposite each other, can be fully explained within the context of the 2014 election. What do you think?

CREW is not down with DesJarlais

National watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has named U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais to its list of “the most corrupt members of Congress,” adding to the embattled congressman’s list of things that make news copywriters everywhere use the adjective “embattled” to describe him.

None of the other members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation made the CREW cut.

The media release follows.

Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) one of the most corrupt members of Congress.  Rep. DesJarlais, a licensed physician, engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships with two patients and made numerous false statements about his conduct, earning the congressman a place in CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, an annual, bipartisan look at Washington’s worst.

Click here to read the full report on Rep. DesJarlais.

“The doctor-patient relationship is sacred, and a doctor who exploits that relationship to prey on women commits an undeniable abuse of power,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “Rep. DesJarlais’ repeated crossing of that ethical boundary directly reflects on his fitness to serve in Congress.”

In and around 2000, while working as a physician and before his election to Congress, Rep. DesJarlais engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient.  News reports revealing the affair quoted from the transcript of a phone call Rep. DesJarlais recorded between himself and his patient in which Rep. DesJarlais, who was married at the time, urged his patient to get an abortion.  After the disclosure of the affair, Rep. DesJarlais claimed he was not involved in recording the phone conversation, contradicting sworn testimony he gave during his 2001 divorce proceedings.  When the record of his testimony was made public, Rep. DesJarlais retreated from his previous statements.  He has repeatedly said the woman was not pregnant and did not have an abortion, contrary to her own testimony during the divorce proceedings.  Rep. DesJarlais also engaged in a sexual relationship with another patient, and prescribed painkillers for her on dates at his home.

In October 2012, CREW filed two complaints against Rep. DesJarlais with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.  In May 2013, the board reached a consent agreement with Rep. DesJarlais, finding he had engaged in unprofessional conduct by maintaining sexual relationships with two patients, and fining him $250 for each patient with whom he had a relationship, as well as a maximum of $1,000 in costs.

“The Tennessee authorities’ inexcusably light punishment of Rep. DesJarlais sends the message that doctors who prey on their patients will get off with a slap on the wrist,” continued Sloan.  “While the board may be unwilling to hold Rep. DesJarlais to account for his grossly unethical conduct, the public deserves better from its elected representatives.”

This is the ninth edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt report, an annual look at unethical conduct by members of Congress.  This year’s list includes 6 Democrats and 11 Republicans; 10 are repeat offenders.  Since 2005, CREW has named 88 members of Congress to the list, 45 of whom are no longer in office.

The year ahead

As James Harrison tweeted Wednesday morning, one year from tonight, we will likely know the winners of Tennessee state and federal primary elections for the 2014 cycle. Many county general election results will also be tallied.

As with the rest of the nation, the outcomes at the congressional level are mostly safely predicted. The lone exception involves incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, whose redrawn 4th District and unearthed personal saga have a couple of well-funded candidates declaring that he doesn’t cut the mustard. DesJarlais officially launched his re-election campaign today—the same day he was named Capitol Hill’s most vulnerable lawmaker in a primary by National Journal.

DesJarlais is not the only one who will face a primary challenge. For example, state Rep. Glen Casada has a Republican opponent. There are and will be others.

Tea Party groups and other Tennessee conservatives are anxious to take down U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, but it’s not clear whether that anxiety will materialize as an actual candidate. Alexander seem to be taking them seriously to a degree, because Federal Election Commission disclosure records show that he has spent well over $2 million (a fact that was hurried to my inbox by one of the aforementioned conservative activists).

Last week, Andrea Zelinski highlighted a handful of the more watch-worthy aspects of next year’s cycle.

Here in Hamilton County, the race I’ve seen the most talk about (and by that I mean very little) is for Sheriff. Since the county primary is in May, I’m a little surprised that there is not a bit more activity. Maybe it will come as of Labor Day. Maybe the school board will be where all the action is.

Who knows? One year from tonight, we will.