NASHVILLE, TN — Embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., told a Nashville television station on Friday that State of Tennessee Health Department investigators have already spoken to him about complaints that he had sex with at least two patients, one of whom he urged to get an abortion in 2000.
DesJarlais acknowledged in the interview with WKRN-TV reporter Chris Bungaard that officials are actively investigating the complaints, one of which was filed during his 2012 campaign by the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics group. The other was filed by the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Congressman DesJarlais told the reporter, “Again, this is a 13-, 14-year-old issue, and I am working with them in full cooperation,” adding in response to another question that he is trying to resolve the complaints. “Yes, they had some questions, and I answered them.”
Some of the issues, stemming from his bitter 2001 divorce, surfaced during his 2012 fall election with Democrat Eric Stewart. Others came after a transcript of the divorce trial was released by a Hamilton County judge a week after the Nov. 6 election upon a motion filed by Democrats.
The 4th District congressman’s political troubles have multiplied since. A fellow Republican, state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, announced this week he was running against DesJarlais in the 2014 GOP primary, charging that the congressman “deceived and betrayed” constituents and pledging “I will never embarrass you.”
In addition to Tracy, at least two other Republicans, state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, and Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, are weighing bids as well.
DesJarlais, who previously announced that God has “forgiven me” and asked fellow Christians and constituents to consider doing the same, said, “I think that as you go through life, we make mistakes, learn from them, we try to move and be better for it.”
DesJarlais previously stated that his personal life took a change for the better after the 2001 divorce and his subsequent remarriage. He says “I’ve talked to constituents back home and for the most part, and for the most part people I have talked to have been very supportive, pleased with the job I did in the last Congress.”
As for his fellow Republicans lining up to take him on next year, DesJarlais said, “we all know it’s a marathon and not a sprint. We may see a lot of interesting entries as we move forward.”
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press