By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union on Tuesday called for Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais to resign after reports that include the congressman once urged a mistress to terminate a pregnancy.
Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said in a 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.”
Last week, a second former patient told the Chattanooga Times Free Press she dated DesJarlais in 2000 and that he prescribed drugs for her and they used marijuana together.
“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.”
DesJarlais campaign manager Brandon Lewis sought to discredit Daugherty, stating in an email Tuesday that he is “neither genuinely conservative or Republican” and that “liberals are trying … to make this race about a 14-year-old divorce.”
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.
Here’s the statement from Tennessee Conservative Union:
The most recent revelations about Congressman DesJarlais’ activities, which include that he recommended an abortion for one of his mistresses, prescription of illicit drugs for some of his female patients, and most recent, his use of marijuana with a second mistress has reached a level of hypocrisy that is simply untenable.
“As Tennessee’s oldest and largest conservative organization, we are today calling for the resignation of Congressman DesJarlais”, announced long-time Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty. “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. He has embarrassed the United States Congress”.
Daugherty continued, “Some partisans will say that if he was a liberal there would not be the outrage in the media. That is true. However, we Conservatives must hold ourselves and those who label themselves as Conservatives, like DesJarlais, to a higher standard and hold them accountable for their actions. 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 as Congressman of the Fourth District. He ran as a pro-life, pro-family Conservative. He is none of those.”