Democrats are stepping up their criticism of Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who faces a November contest with state Sen. Eric Stewart for the 4th Congressional District seat.
From Chris Carroll comes a story on state Democratic Party officials renewing accusations of “pay-to-play politics” by the incumbent. in U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ office.
Statewide Democratic leaders initially raised the issue in late March, saying the first-term Republican received re-election help from a nuclear energy company five days before he urged government officials to “free up funds” for one of the company’s projects.
A minutelong video released Thursday describes DesJarlais as “bought and paid for by the Washington lobbyists.”
The online video explores DesJarlais’ relationship with USEC Inc., a Maryland-based nuclear energy company and a contractor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Numerous residents commute there from DesJarlais’ 4th Congressional District.
On March 14, 2011, USEC’s political action committee sent $1,000 to DesJarlais’ re-election campaign. Two months later, the congressman signed a letter asking White House officials to “make rapid completion” of a loan guarantee for the company’s “American Centrifuge” project.
On Oct. 31, 2011, USEC’s PAC sent another $1,000 to DesJarlais. Five days after the check arrived, the congressman signed a separate letter urging the Department of Energy to “take administrative action now to free up funds” for USEC.
DesJarlais has branded himself a fiscal conservative committed to privatizing government programs and slashing federal spending.
“This level of hypocrisy is pathetic,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “We’ll never get our economy back on track … as long as self-serving politicians like Scott DesJarlais are corrupting our government with pay-to-play politics.”
In a statement, DesJarlais said the USEC project is “a key concern to both our national security interests and nuclear energy production.”
“I have and will continue to support this project because of its importance to national security and job creation in East Tennessee,” he said.
Meanwhile, here’s release from the Stewart campaign:
At a time when Tennessee’s Governor and U.S. Senators are strengthening state and federal laws to protect women from violence, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R- Jasper) voted to defund support and services offered to abused women.
Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), both voted to reauthorize and fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last month. The Act was originally passed by Congress in 1994 and provides funding for investigation and prosecution of crimes against women, but DesJarlais refused to support the measure and instead supported an intensely partisan bill that narrows and cuts funding of domestic violence investigations.
Rather than supporting the Senate’s version of the bill (S.B. 1925), which passed with wide bipartisan support, DesJarlais chose to vote for legislation (H.R. 4970) that narrows and defunds the support provided to abuse victims. More than 300 advocacy groups opposed DesJarlais efforts to limit services for abuse victims, including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and National Organization of Women.
Eric Stewart, current state senator and candidate for Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district, says the vote that DesJarlais made is one that gives abused women less protections.
“Our elected officials at the state and federal level should do everything they can to strengthen laws that prevent violence against women and prosecute those who commit the violence,” Stewart said.
According to the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee has one of the highest violence rates against women in the country, with Tennessee ranking 5th in the nation for the rate at which women are murdered by men. Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) made reducing these numbers a priority in Tennessee this year by introducing legislation (HB 2389) to increase the penalties on domestic violence offenders. Haslam’s legislation, supported by Stewart, passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled Tennessee State Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, also a Republican.
“Our Governor, State Senate, State House, and U.S. Senators fully support legislation that protects women in our state from abuse and violence,” Stewart added. “The people of Tennessee’s 4th District need a Congressman that will do the same.”
And this from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Congressman Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) chose today to make women’s safety a partisan political issue by voting to weaken the Violence Against Women Act and shift power into the hands of abusers. DesJarlais blocked consideration of the Senate’s bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that passed by a vote of 68 to 31 and would protect all victims of domestic and sexual violence.
More than 300 organizations oppose this weakening of the Violence Against Women Act including the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“You know just how broken Washington is when Congressman Scott DesJarlais plays politics with women’s safety and ignores the opposition of local law enforcement,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Congressman DesJarlais voted against a bipartisan extension of the Violence Against Women Act and voted to roll back basic and longstanding protections for women, shifting power into the hands of their abusers.”
DesJarlais Voted Against Considering the Reauthorization of the Bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. On May 16, 2012, DesJarlais voted against considering a reauthorization of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, passed by the Senate with support from 15 Senate Republicans. [H Res 656, Vote #254, 5/16/12]
DesJarlais Voted to Weaken the Violence Against Women Act. On May 16, 2012, House Republicans voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act. The bill (HR 4970) rolls back existing law and fails to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of violence and shifts power into the hands of abusers. [HR 4970, Vote #258, 5/16/12; Dear Colleague Letter from Minority Staff, 5/16/12]
More Than 300 Organizations Oppose the House Republican Bill. “More than 300 organizations oppose the House GOP bill, including such groups as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Break the Cycle, Legal Momentum, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, YWCA USA, AAUW, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Bar Association, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Human Rights Campaign, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and National Congress of American Indians.” [Democratic Leader, accessed 5/16/12]
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Republican Backed Bill is “Anti-Victim.” Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, claimed that bill backed by Republicans is “an anti-victim bill that promotes a racist, elitist and homophobic agenda.” [Politico, 5/3/12]
National Network to End Domestic Violence Opposed the Republican Backed Bill. “We are shocked that this bill includes provisions that roll back protections for victims and significantly weakens the Violence Against Women Act,” said Sue Else, NNEDV’s president. “This is an unprecedented departure from this effective law’s original intent. Thousands of victim advocates across the country recommended substantial improvements for the latest reauthorization, and the U.S. Senate accepted those recommendations in a bipartisan way. It is alarming that the House Judiciary Committee has not done the same.” [NNEDV, 5/9/12]
U.S. Conference of Mayors Were “Greatly Concerned” About Republican Backed Bill. “We are greatly concerned by a provision included in the VAWA reauthorization proposed by the House of Representatives, H.R. 4970, which would roll back confidentiality protections that enable undocumented women to safely come forward and report violent crimes. […] The House bill, unlike the Senate version, also does not address the continuing challenge of violence in tribal communities.” [U.S. Conference of Mayors Press Release, 5/15/12]