Political Animal


November 15, 2012 5:20 PM The Right Honorable Gentleman From Tennessee, a “Consistent Supporter of Pro-Life Values”

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t usually get into personal scandals involving politicians; they are virtually required by the nature of the game to be hypocrites and often the kind of egomaniacs who live in houses with no mirrors. And I really don’t care about their sex lives. But the unfolding revelations involving U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) have crossed the line between hypocrisy and a major personality disorder. Check this out, from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.

And there’s more:

The 679-page transcript reveals new details about DesJarlais’ interactions with a 24-year-old-patient, who claimed she became pregnant with DesJarlais’ child during a short fling in 2000 and that the doctor later pressed her to have an abortion.
DesJarlais, who is now 48 years old, admitted in court to pressuring the woman over the phone to get an abortion, but said the whole conversation was a scheme orchestrated by him and his wife — with whom he had reconciled — to get the 24-year-old to admit she was not really pregnant.

Oh, okay. That clears it all up.

You might wonder how DesJarlais got re-elected last week with all this damning information about his not-too-distant past:

The divorce trial transcript surfaces eight days after the freshman Republican cruised to re-election past Democratic challenger Eric Stewart, persevering through October media reports of sleeping with patients and urging one to get an abortion.
The Tennessee Democratic Party had attempted to obtain the transcript before the Nov. 6 election, but the court delayed the process because the document was not typed up in its complete form.

Again: oh, okay. Typing is really hard. And DesJarlais now has two more years to show he’s just a regular God-fearing guy, unless it’s possible there’s more in his background, or he was auditioning for a role in The Borgias.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • RMcD on November 15, 2012 5:42 PM:

    Thanks for the profile on my congressman! The sad truth of the matter is that releasing the transcripts before the election probably wouldn't have mattered. Up until 2010, we had been represented for two decades by Bart Gordon, as moderate and liberal a Dem as you could find in the white south, but the Appalachian outflow has hit us hard. McCain beat Obama by 26 in the district (prior to a radical redraw post-census), and we've had nothing but four years of right wing demagoguery ever since, most famously with the Murfreesboro-mosque paranoia.

    The more national attention DesJarlais gets the better. He's a hypocrite, a clown, and a really awful congressman. Just not even remotely up to the job. That should be a big issue too, but it isn't. We look like we're in for a generation or more of non-stop wingnuttery.

  • schtick on November 15, 2012 5:49 PM:

    What's the surprise supposed to be? He's a republican isn't he?

  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on November 15, 2012 6:06 PM:

    It is one thing to ignore general hypocrisy. But when a person wants to impose their stated "beliefs" on everyone else, then it is important to point this out.

  • jpeckjr on November 15, 2012 7:52 PM:

    I was kind of hoping he was also an evangelical Christian because that would either (1) increase the hyprocisy, or (2) provide an excuse for all those sinful things happening before he truly found the Lord. But he's Episcopalian according to his biography, so can't go there, can we?

  • boatboy_srq on November 15, 2012 8:04 PM:

    Isn't he part of the same set of wingnuts that is trying to convince the US that Gen. Petraeus' having a consensual extramarital affair with one woman is sufficient scandal to indict the entire Obama presidency?

    Oh, and DesJarlais will probably face the electoral music for this - right after David Vitter...

  • Richard Hershberger on November 16, 2012 11:21 AM:

    "Again: oh, okay. Typing is really hard."

    The hint here is that the transcript was delayed for political reasons. This could be true. But it also could be legit. Legal proceedings nowadays are typically recorded, but not transcribed unless there is some reason for it. So you order (and pay for) a transcription, and there is a lag time while it is prepared. Some jurisdictions let you pay extra for a rush job, while some don't. Without knowing when the transcription was ordered and the policies of this particular court, it is impossible to know if they sat on this or not.

  • Lee on November 21, 2012 7:46 PM:

    the coupleís 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.

    Would someone explain to me why this man still has a license to practice medicine? I guess the standards in Jasper are lower than in the rest of the country, where sexual congress between a doctor and a patient is generally prohibited.