Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester says the party is filing its own separate medical ethics complaint against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais to ensure state health officials have the physician’s own sworn testimony that he had sex with patients, reports Andy Sher. “We … are doing what we do to protect Democrats and Tennesseans,” Forrester said shortly before heading to the state Department of Health to file the complaint (on Thursday).
He said, “I want to be sure that this agency has, in Scott DesJarlais’ words, the fact that he had sex” with at least two patients and gave one of them prescription drugs.
During the Jasper lawmaker’s fall campaign, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a similar complaint against DesJarlais based on his actions a dozen years ago. That complaint was based on reports from the Times Free Press and other news outlets
News release from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:
Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) alleging Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) violated House rules by blatantly lying to the public when confronted about an inappropriate sexual relationship he had with a patient while serving as her treating physician.
In October, a transcript of a telephone conversation between the doctor-turned-congressman and the unidentified woman was released revealing the pro-life congressman urging the woman, who he believed might have been pregnant with his child, to have an abortion.
Rep. DesJarlais stated he had not recorded the conversation, claiming it “was recorded unknowingly without my consent.” Recently released testimony from the congressman’s divorce proceedings proves Rep. DesJarlais intentionally and knowingly recorded the call. Under oath, he testified that he and his wife recorded the conversation to discern whether the mistress/patient was lying about her pregnancy.
“Apparently, Rep. DesJarlais suffered a convenient memory block until a transcript from his divorce refreshed his recollection after he was reelected,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Taping a conversation with a mistress doesn’t seem like something you would easily forget, but maybe now he will argue his memory was clouded by the pot he was smoking at the time, or he confused that mistress with one of his many others.”
Rep. DesJarlais also claimed — and continues to claim — the patient was not pregnant and did not have an abortion. Testifying under oath in Rep. DesJarlais’ divorce case, however, the woman asserted that, in fact, she was pregnant and fairly confident Rep. DesJarlais was the father. Nevertheless, she refused to comment on the outcome of the pregnancy, but said she had no children by Rep. DesJarlais.
“It is clear Rep. DesJarlais lied to ensure his telling of events aligns with his current anti-abortion stance. Apparently, his views have ‘evolved’ to the point where he now believes abortions should be illegal for everyone except the women with whom he sleeps,” continued Ms. Sloan, who noted the congressman seemingly had urged his wife to have two abortions. “Rep. DesJarlais’ constituents may have overlooked his reprehensible conduct and numerous lies, but hopefully, the House will not. Whatever happened to Speaker Boehner’s much touted ‘zero tolerance’ for misconduct?”
Click here to read CREW’s letter to the OCE
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington responded Wednesday to new allegations against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, again asking state medical authorities to investigate its ethics complaint against the physician-turned-congressman, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “Who knows how many more women are out there, wary of coming forward for fear of embarrassment?” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a news release. “If Tennessee expects its doctors to follow the ban on sexual misconduct, the Board of Medical Examiners must take swift action.”
DesJarlais is a Republican running against Democrat Eric Stewart in the 4th District congressional race. On Oct. 12, the watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against DesJarlais after a phone transcript showed the anti-abortion Republican urging an unnamed patient with whom he had an affair to get an abortion in 2000.
CREW’s latest letter comes after a second woman told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that she dated DesJarlais while he was her doctor. She recalled marijuana use between the two and said he prescribed her pain medication on dates at his home.
— Note: The CREW news release is below
HUNTINGDON, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican candidate for state Senate who once tore up a dying widow’s last will and testament while she was unconscious has been named in an ethics complaint.
A complaint to the Board of Professional Responsibility says Virginia House and her husband paid Huntingdon attorney John Stevens $500 to write their will and set up an irrevocable trust.
WNWS-FM (http://bit.ly/SglFjX ) reports it was provided a copy of the complaint by the House family. In it, House says Stevens never performed the work and didn’t return the money.
Stevens released a statement saying that BPR complaints are confidential and the public release of any complaint is a desperate attempt to influence the election.
House said she was moved to file it by news stories of the widow whose will was destroyed.
News release from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:
Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health against Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) for conducting an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient in violation of state law.
Last week, it was reported that in 2001, while he was married, Rep. DesJarlais engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient. A transcript of a conversation between Rep. DesJarlais and the unidentified woman clearly demonstrates the pair began a sexual relationship when Rep. DesJarlais was her treating physician. The transcript also reveals the pro-life congressman urging the woman, whom he believed might have been pregnant with his child, to have an abortion. Rep. DesJarlais has not contested the authenticity of the transcript and has admitted to the relationship.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Tennessee law is crystal clear: Doctors are prohibited from engaging in sexual relationships with patients. The only question remaining is, now that Tennessee authorities are aware of Rep. DesJarlais’ blatantly unethical and scurrilous conduct, what are they going to do about it?”
During the conversation, the woman blamed their predicament on Rep. DesJarlais, noting it was his “fault for sleeping with your patient.” Rep. DesJarlais responded that she had initiated the relationship by suggesting he ask her out after he called to check on her foot.
According to the Tennessee State Board of Medical Examiners’ Sexual Misconduct Statement and Policy, “sexual contact with a patient is misconduct and is considered to be a violation of T.C.A. Section 63-6-214(b)(1),” which prohibits unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct. The policy makes clear that whether the patient consented to or initiated the sexual contact is immaterial; the physician is strictly liable. Possible penalties for violations include restrictions on a physician’s practice as well as the suspension or even revocation of his medical license.
Sloan continued, “It is hard to imagine behavior much more craven than a married doctor exploiting his position to conduct a sexual relationship with a patient. It is mind-boggling that when confronted with the patient/mistress’s possible pregnancy, this ardent pro-lifer urged her to have an abortion. How much hypocrisy can we stand? Where is Speaker John Boehner’s much-touted zero tolerance for unethical conduct now?”
— Note: Text of the letter to Department of Health is HERE.
In response to an emailed inquiry about the letter, Department of Health spokesman Woody McMillan responded: Anyone can file a complaint with our Complaints Division. The complainant does not have to be a Tennessee resident. Our investigators follow up on each complaint received. We could not speak to a time line, as each complaint is evaluated based on the issues involved.
A nonpartisan watchdog group has filed a complaint against Republican state Senate candidate Mark Green, claiming he used a political action committee to bypass limits on campaign contributions, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. Tennessee Citizen Action filed the complaint with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
The group alleges Green used “Green PAC” as “an illegal conduit” for donations from an employee and a business associate so they could exceed the maximum allowable contributions.
Tennessee Citizen Action is a consumer rights and public information organization that enlists volunteers to look through campaign finance reports for signs of inappropriate activity.
“In this climate of unlimited campaign money being allowed to be funneled into a campaign, we look out for the people whose only voice is their vote,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of the group, in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
Green PAC’s treasurer is Rachel Barrett, a partner at Barrett Johns Strategies, a firm that has been employed by the Green campaign, the complaint says.
…Green PAC has had only three donors: Green ($250); one of his employees, Win Winegar ($3,000); and Rich Street, owner of a medical billing company ($5,000).
On the same day Street made his donation, the bulk of the Green PAC money ($8,000) was deposited into the Mark Green for Senate Campaign, the complaint says.
Winegar, Leigh Winegar, Street and Leesa Street had each previously donated the maximum of $1,400 to the campaign.
The PAC was created just a few days before its biggest contribution, and there has been no activity since, the complaint says. Note: A Republican news release on the complaint and Mancini’s response to the release are below.
State Rep. Butt is attempting to “show good faith” in modifying some of her campaign’s yard signs after a complaint revealed the signs did not comply with state law, reports the Columbia Daily Herald. At a function of the Maury County Republican Party last week, the candidate, who is running for state House District 64 against Democratic candidate Brian Brewer, said she is providing stickers to her supporters and asking them to affix the stickers to her yard signs to put her campaign in compliance with state statute.
According to the law, political communications, advertisements and solicitations must explicitly name the person or organization who authorized them. The incumbent candidate said the missing text from many of her signs was an unintentional oversight. The stickers denote the signs as the responsibility of the Committee to Re-Elect Sheila Butt.
“When I was in Florida at the Republican National Convention, the assistant attorney general called and said, ‘Someone called this morning ranting and raving to say your signs are not in compliance,'” Butt said. “I don’t see it as a big deal. It’s just one of those things in elections that come up and people want to complain about it.”
Assistant District Attorney General Kimberly Cooper confirmed Thursday that her office had received two phone calls about the missing text. In a letter to the candidate dated Aug. 30, Cooper recommended that Butt attach the stickers to her signs to avoid non-compliance.
…Greg Hanners, chair of the Maury County Democratic Party, said his organization brought the missing text to the attention of the state Registrar of Elections, but failed to take the issue farther as it was soon addressed by Butt’s campaign. In an email last week, Hanners said he is pleased with Butt’s attempts to correct the problem. He agreed there was probably no ill intent in the signs’ missing information.
A six-member state board that investigates campaign finance irregularities will meet next month and decide whether to look further into some questionable disclosure forms filed by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports Mike Donila. In addition, state ethics officials said they also are seeking possible records that the mayor’s estranged wife, Allison Burchett, may have that are related to her husband’s 2010 election.
“We’ve got the complaint and now it’s up to the registry (of election finance) to determine whether it wants to proceed, dismiss or do something in the middle,” said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
At issue is a formal sworn complaint filed by local freelance writer Pam Strickland, asking state and local officials to look into campaign discrepancies in the mayor’s disclosure forms. Strickland, who writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel but is not an employee of the newspaper, filed the complaint last week with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
The state, at the time, said it wouldn’t act until it heard back from local officials.
On Friday, though, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office forwarded the complaint to Rawlins. John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, sent a brief note saying he also has contacted Allison Burchett’s attorney “to retrieve any records in Ms. Burchett’s possession or control related to that election.”
…County Mayor Tim Burchett said: “Nobody wants to get to the bottom of it more than I do.”
Strickland said her “only concern is that it be investigated,” so “it didn’t matter” whether local or state officials looked into the issue, although she did say that “it removed local politics” now that it’s in the registry’s hands.
The registry, which is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans appointed by the governor and the Legislature, will meet Sept. 5 in Nashville. At that time, members will more than likely decide whether to issue the mayor a “show cause” letter that would require him to explain how the errors occurred and to fix them if possible.
The board — if it chooses to investigate the issue — also would have to decide later whether to dismiss any issues or assess a civil penalty, which can be as much as $10,000 per offense.
The Registry of Election Finance has dismissed a 2011 complaint filed against state Sen. Stacey Campfield based on a Texas-based movie producer reporting that the Knoxville Republican solicited a $1,000 “retainer” for a proposed debate appearance.
Del Shores, whose films have involved homosexuality, had contacted Campfield with the idea of having a debate in California on the “don’t say gay” bill that the senator was sponsoring at the time. State law prohibits legislators from taking an honorarium related to their lawmaking duties and Shores said Campfield asked for $1,000 in advance.
In dismissing the complaint, the registry noted that no exchange of money ever took place, according to The Tennessee Journal. Campfield said he wanted to be sure his expenses would be paid if he made a trip to California. The debate never took place.
Knoxville freelance writer and editor Pam Strickland has filed a formal sworn complaint, asking state and local officials to look into questionable campaign finance disclosure forms reported by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports the News Sentinel. Strickland, who sent the complaint on Wednesday via certified mail to the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said: “If there is a problem, it needs to be investigated, and we need to know what that problem is. If there’s not a problem, we need to know that, too.”
John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County district attorney general, said Thursday that he had received the statement, will review it “and then take appropriate action.”
The mayor said Strickland “has every right as a citizen” to file the report, but added: “I find it very odd that it is a newspaper writer filing a complaint and I’m being asked about it before I have even been informed about it by the Attorney General’s Office.”
Strickland writes a weekly column for the Knoxville News Sentinel, although she is not an employee with the News Sentinel or E.W. Scripps, the paper’s parent company. She filed the complaint as “a citizen of Knox County and (a) properly registered voter.”