NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Democratic Party says it has asked a Marion County judge today to unseal court records related to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ 2001 divorce.
Gerard Stranch, state Democrats’ chief legal counsel for the state party, says in a news release that he filed the motion in Marion County Chancery Court and is asking all documents “related to Scott DesJarlais’ unethical sexual relationship with his patient be open for review by the voters in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District.”
“Scott DesJarlais has admitted to at least four extra marital affairs, one of which was with a patient in his care, a clear violation of his professional code of ethics and state law," Stranch said. “DesJarlais wasn’t honest with us the first time he ran for office, and there’s no other way to know what else he’s hiding.”
DesJarlais’ campaign manager said in response that “our conservative support is growing and solidifying as Tennessee voters react to this recycled smear campaign initiated by Lincoln Davis and now perpetuated by his understudy Eric Stewart in order to hide his pro-choice record and support of Barack Obama, Obamacare, and the liberal policies that have crushed job creators.
“While the Democrats go digging through the dumpster, Congressman DesJarlais is fighting for lower taxes, Job creation, and a repeal of Obamacare — the things Tennessee voters actually care about,” Brandon Lewis said.
The Democratic Party says it is seeking to unseal the records from DesJarlais’ and his then-wife Susan’s divorce after reports surfaced that the physician back in 2000 had a relationship with a patient who he later “pressured to have an abortion.”
DesJarlais, who touts his anti-abortion stances, has publicly acknowledged a partial transcript of a recorded conversation with the woman was accurate. But DesJarlais has said that as a physician, he knew the woman was not pregnant and was using “strong rhetoric” to get her to admit it.
There was no pregnancy and no abortion, said DesJarlais, who was elected to Congress in 2010. He said he treated the woman briefly for a foot injury.
Earlier today, former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, Tenn., whom DesJarlais defeated in 2010, said he regretted using television ads using other portions of the divorce case to attack DesJarlais based on allegations made by his then wife.
“I regret the things that have happened. I regret the things that happened to him, quite frankly, and wished it had not happened,” he said.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...