Reports on Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ sexual relationship with a second patient he met as a physician have brought a new round of criticism from supporters of Eric Stewart, the Democratic nominee in the 4th Congressional District.
House Majority PAC, a group with ties to Democratic congressional leaders, announced it had purchased another $180,000 worth of television time for a new commercial criticizing the embattled congressman. That makes a total of about $280,000 spent by the group.
State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester, meanwhile, called a news conference to declare that DesJarlais “ran his medical practice like a Craigslist cathouse” and berate the state’s Republican leaders “standing in support of Scott DesJarlais and his unethical behavior” though a “conspiracy of silence” on the controversy.
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press on Sunday quoted a woman, who was granted anonymity, as saying she had the Marion County physician had a sexual relationship 12 years ago while his divorce was pending, that they shared marijuana and that he wrote prescriptions for drugs to her at her home. An earlier report quoted a transcript of DesJarlais urging another woman, also met as a patient, to get an abortion.
DesJarlais has said that, in the first case, he believed the woman was not really pregnant and used “strong language” with the aim of having her admit it. She turned out not to be pregnant, the doctor-congressman said.
DesJarlais had no direct comment on the second report. His campaign manager sent media this email:
“The woman mentioned in this article has reached out to both the congressman’s wife and the paper to express concerns about her statements being taken out of context and factual inaccuracies contained in this article. … Rather than focusing solely on a 14-year-old divorce, why don’t they talk to the congressman’s wife, Amy, who he has been married to for more than 10 years?
“It speaks volumes that even Lincoln Davis recently said that he regretted his actions and that these types of personal smear campaigns that hurt families have no place in politics.”
Davis, the Democratic congressman DesJarlais defeated in 2010, ran ads pointing to other allegations in DesJarlais’ divorce, including his ex-wife’s claim that he threatened her and once put a pistol in his mouth. Davis, who is backing Stewart this year, has said he regrets the ads.
Meanwhile, Forrester has called on the Republican Party and elected officials to seek DesJarlais’ resignation and to condemn his actions.
“Their approval and support of DesJarlais’ unethical behavior and hypocrisy makes it painfully clear that the Tennessee Republican Party is only concerned with one thing — holding on to power,” said Forrester.
Asked for comment on the Democrat’s call, state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney sent this via email:
“We’re not going to comment further on hearsay, anonymous charges that are being leveled by a desperate candidate. Folks in the 4th District are focused on jobs and the economy, and not on stories being ginned up for political purposes by a desperate Democrat Party.”
(Note: This updates and replaces previous post.)
Here’s a sample of some of the direct mail pieces sent to mail boxes in state House District 5, where Republican Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, is in a tight race with former Democratic Rep. Eddie Yokley:
Democratic party mailer on Hawk’s domestic violence charge, HERE.
Republican party mailer on ‘Illegal Immigrants Support Eddie Yokley,’ HERE.
Republican party mailer, Eddie Yokley voted to use taxpayer dollars for abortions, HERE.
Republican party mailer: Eddie Yokley has a record ‘Barack Obama would be proud of,’ HERE.
Republican party mailer comparing Yokley’s ‘Obama liberal values’ with Hawk’s ‘Tennessee conservative values,’ HERE.
David Hawk and Eddie Yokley both say they have striven for civility in their Greene County competition for the right to represent citizens of House District 5, but political party powers in Nashville are pushing the campaign in a mean-spirited direction.
As of Friday, the Tennessee Republican Party had sent seven direct mail pieces into the district that Yokley says range from “terrible distortions” to “outright lies,” accusing the Democratic candidate of everything from “Chicago cronyism” to support for illegal immigrants and taxpayer-funded abortions. Hawk disavows them all.
The Tennessee Democratic Party last week sent voters in the district a direct mail piece outlining domestic violence charges that Hawk faces, which are adamantly denied by the Republican lawmaker. Hawk says it is “unfortunate that the Democrats have resorted to personal attacks.”
Yokley disavows the mailer, saying he and his local supporters have strictly avoided mention of allegations that Hawk attacked his wife. The charges against Hawk have been bound over to the Greene County grand jury. (Note: This has been corrected from the original post, which mistakenly said Hawk has been indicted.)
Still, both men say their party’s mailers are better than the other party’s attacks.
After one term in the state legislature, state Sen. Tim Barnes knew he was going to be in a fight to come back to Capitol Hill, reports the Tennessean in the latest look at an intense state Senate campaign. “When the lieutenant governor says he wants 33 state senators and makes me a target and raises money for my opponent, believe me, I know it’s going to be a tough race,” Barnes said.
The District 22 contest between Barnes, D-Adams, and doctor and business owner Mark Green, R-Clarksville, has become negative enough to earn statewide attention.
These tactics have become more frequent in the past month, even though the major attacks haven’t been handled by the candidates. While the Tennessee Democratic Party and a nonpartisan progressive group have separately attacked Green’s record as a doctor and questioned a campaign funding issue, the state Republican caucus released a television ad criticizing Barnes’ record in the state legislature (and other stuff).
…At the same time, Republican officials outside of the Green campaign are going on the attack against Barnes. A television ad that tied the Democrat to liberal positions on federal issues, including cap-and-trade legislation and the Affordable Care Act aired on local stations and was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney demanded an apology from House Democrat Caucus Chairman Mike Turner for echoing an identical claim he made two years ago, saying racism is the reason for Tennessee voters’ opposition to President Obama.
Turner’s comments came at the Tennessee Democrats’ state executive committee meeting on Saturday.
Turner said, “We’ve got a president up here whose color is not the right shade according to a lot of people, and they just hate him for that reason…I was talking to a guy this morning at a filling station and it didn’t matter what Obama did, he’s not going to like it because Obama’s an African-American. I told him, I said, ‘Look, he’s half white. You ought to like half of him anyway.’ These people are dead set against him for that reason, and that’s unfortunate. That’s very unfortunate.”
According to the Nashville Scene’s Jeff Woods, the “half white” comment drew nervous laughter among the Democrats’ committee.
“This is not the first time that Mike Turner has said something absurd, but this crosses the line,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
Turner made similar allegations of racism against Tennessee voters back in March of 2010, saying, “All of a sudden, we have a black man elected president and everybody wants to start acting like something’s wrong with our country.”
Turner’s comments two years ago prompted Devaney to send a letter to Tennessee Democrat Party Chairman Chip Forrester, asking him to condemn Turner’s comments at the time. A response was never received.
“Aside from his own racially-insensitive joke about President Obama, for Mike Turner to once again accuse Tennessee voters for not embracing the President’s failed economic policies because of racism is nothing short of outrageous,” said Devaney.
“Tennesseans overwhelmingly reject this President based solely on his failed policies that have led us to more spending, higher debt, and 23 million Americans still struggling to find work. Saying that Tennesseans’ objection to the President is because of racism is a slap in the face to the integrity and morality of voters, and Mike Turner should be ashamed.
“As I did two years ago, I, once again, demand that Mike Turner immediately apologize for his irresponsible joke and outrageous claim about Tennessee voters. And I, once again, also call on the Democrat Party to publicly condemn Mike Turner’s comments,” concluded Devaney.
— Note: Previous post HERE. The Jeff Woods’ post on Turner’s remarks, including the prediction that they would trigger a Republican attack, went up at 10:23 a.m. CDT; the Republican attack arrived in my email at 11:30 a.m. CDT.
The nasty primary between U.S. Rep. Diane Black and tea party activist Lou Ann Zelenik two years ago is being repeated this summer, and Chas Sisk says signs are gathering that the race once again will feature the religiously charged and personal attacks that left the two camps bitter and bruised. With the dust from 2010 barely settled, Black and Zelenik once again will face off in August for the Republican nomination to represent Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District.
With no Democrat on the ballot, the primary will settle who represents Nashville’s northern and eastern suburbs in Congress next year. The battle also could help shape the character of the Tennessee Republican Party for years to come — offering voters a straight-up choice between a firebrand activist and a veteran Republican lawmaker who differ in style more than they differ on policy.
…Both candidates are wealthy, with ample resources to wage political warfare. Black put more than $1 million of her own money into the 2010 campaign, and she finished the first quarter of 2012 with more than $700,000 in the bank.
Zelenik has not yet released fundraising totals, but she wrapped up the previous campaign with nearly $200,000 left over. She used that sum to repay a personal loan she had made to her campaign, meaning she could put that money back in if necessary.
The outcome of the race will send a signal to Republicans throughout the state.
A win by Zelenik would suggest Tennessee Republicans want their party to move still further to the right, even if it means antagonizing religious minorities and the party’s moderate wing. A victory by Black would indicate Republican voters have reached their limit, even in one of the state’s most staunchly conservative districts.
News release from Lou Ann Zelenik
MT JULIET, TN – The Diane Black Campaign becomes more desperate after reports of falling poll numbers and lack of any grassroots support. Their candidate has become increasingly shrill in campaign appearances. It seems Diane Black’s campaign has come unhinged. The latest stop in Diane Black’s journey into the political gutter comes in the form of a slew of false and misleading attack ads smearing Sixth District Congressional Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik.
Zelenik Campaign Manager Jay Heine noted today “that Diane Black’s campaign is routinely wrong, dishonest or both about Lou Ann, her positions and her campaign. We are confident the voters of Tennessee will understand a desperate politician will say or do anything to hold on to power. If Diane Black can’t be honest about these basic facts, how can we trust any claim she makes?”
“Congresswoman Black has been misleading Republicans in agitated comments at campaign events about her record of voting to increasing the debt (S.365), funding Obamacare (HR 1, HJ Res. 48, HR 1473, S.365, HR 2608, HR 2055), slashing defense spending (S.365), increasing taxes on our mortgages (HR 3630 Dec 20th 2011) and funding Planned Parenthood (HR 1, S.365) – all votes on the record and all votes Diane Black is ashamed to own up to. Now, her campaign is spreading misinformation about Lou Ann Zelenik’s record and background.” Heine concludes “we’ve seen this before and it is wearing thin on voters.”
Lou Ann Zelenik’s campaign will not jump into Diane Black’s mud puddle. Lou Ann will continue to offer the voters a positive alternative based on the issues and her conservative principles. We will conduct our campaign in a manner that honors the people Lou Ann wishes to serve
News release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais:
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) introduced yesterday H.R. 3848 “Protecting Foods and Beverages from Government Attack Act of 2012.” This legislation would prohibit the use of federal money for advertising campaigns against any food or beverage deemed safe and lawfully marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Rep. DesJarlais released the following statement after the introduction of this important and timely legislation:
“Our top priority should be restarting the economy and creating jobs – not funding scare campaigns against perfectly safe and legal products. At a time when our nation faces high unemployment, it makes absolutely no sense that federal and city agencies would aggressively advertise against American products made by American workers.
“As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of my chief responsibilities is to track how funds from President Obama’s Stimulus Package were spent. I was alarmed to find that $230 million in grant money was used, in many cases, to run advertisements attacking America’s soft drink companies.
“As a physician, I believe in promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles, but the American taxpayer should not be forced to subsidize campaigns that push misleading information intended to scare consumers.”