NASHVILLE — Democrat Eric Stewart’s fundraising outpaced Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ contributions following revelations the Jasper physician once asked a woman with whom he had a romantic relationship to seek an abortion.
Stewart raised $63,707 to DesJarlais’ $30,216 from Oct. 1 and Oct. 17, according to their latest Federal Election Commission filings.
DesJarlais reported raising just $12,516 from individuals while Stewart said he raised $49,217. DesJarlais raised $17,700 from political action committees while Stewart raised $14,900.
But the Republican incumbent still enjoyed nearly a 3-to-1 cash advantage heading into the final days of the Nov. 6 election. That was despite jumping onto television with $191,000 in ad purchases in the Chattanooga and Nashville media markets. DesJarlais also spent another $25,000 on media.
He also spent nearly $52,000 on direct mail and $7,000 for an Oct. 16 poll as Stewart and an independent “Super Pac” pummeled the congressman.
DesJarlais has acknowledged the accuracy of a transcript of a recorded conversation between himself and an unnamed patient in which he pressed her about getting an abortion back in 2000. But DesJarlais, who was first elected in 2010, says he knew the woman wasn’t pregnant and was trying to get her to admit it.
The congressman says the woman, whom he had treated for a foot injury previously, was not pregnant and there was no abortion. He also says he and his then-wife were in divorce proceedings and had agreed they could see other people.
The recorded conversation on which the transcript was based occurred at a time when the congressman and his then-wife, Susan DesJarlais, were seeking to reconcile. DesJarlais said he didn’t record the conversation and doesn’t know who did.
DesJarlais said he is pro-Life.
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, ...