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VOL. 36 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 26, 2012
Tennessee Conservative Union chairman calls for DesJarlais to resign
NASHVILLE (AP) — The chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union on Tuesday called for Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais to resign after reports including that the congressman once urged a mistress to terminate a pregnancy.
Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said in a news release on Tuesday that DesJarlais' actions have "reached a level of hypocrisy that is simply untenable."
"He has repudiated the beliefs of the Fourth Congressional District, rejected the long held core values of the state of Tennessee, shamed the Republican Party and accomplished something incredibly difficult," Daugherty said. "He has embarrassed the United States Congress."
DesJarlais, who opposes abortion rights, has argued he was using strong language to try to pressure the woman to admit she was not pregnant. The woman was also under DesJarlais' care as a Jasper physician.
The conversation between DesJarlais and the woman took place while he was trying to reconcile with his first wife, Susan. The divorce was finalized in 2001.
"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais told the woman, who is not identified in the transcript. "If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it."
In the news release, Daugherty referred to a recent article published by the Chattanooga Time Free Press in which the newspaper reported a second former patient said she dated DesJarlais in 2000 and that he prescribed drugs for her and they used marijuana together.
The Dejarlais campaign criticized the newspaper for "focusing solely on a 14-year-old divorce."
DesJarlais campaign spokesman Robert Jameson said later Tuesday: "The Chattanooga Times Free Press is reporting a factually inaccurate story from a non-credible anonymous source who is lying."
"We all make mistakes; but in Congressman DesJarlais, we have a long term pattern of behavior which is totally contrary to the issues he used to be elected Congressman of the Fourth District," Daugherty said. "He ran as a pro-life, pro-family Conservative. He is none of those."
Brandon Lewis, DesJarlais' campaign manager, sought to discredit Daugherty, stating in an email Tuesday that he is "neither genuinely conservative or Republican."
Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that a national political action committee is buying $180,000 worth of television ads criticizing DesJarlais.
The House Majority PAC's ads began running Monday in the Nashville and Chattanooga markets, which reach population centers on both ends of the 4th Congressional District. The group associated with Democratic congressional leaders had previously spent $100,000 on ads in the race.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester this week also called for the resignation of DesJarlais, who faces Democrat Eric Stewart on Nov. 6. Stewart said shortly after the transcript was revealed that DesJarlais should get out of the race, calling the revelation "absolutely disqualifying."
"Certainly the revelations are as disturbing as they have been through the entire campaign," Stewart said Tuesday at a campaign stop at a Harley Davidson dealership in Murfreesboro.