Tag Archives: defends

DesJarlais Interview: ‘I Am Human’

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais says he never intentionally misled voters about his past and stressed that he has no plans to resign over recent revelations that depict a private life starkly at odds with his public image as an anti-abortion, family values congressman.
Further from Michael Collins:
In his first extensive remarks since the release of a court transcript from his 14-year-old divorce, the Jasper Republican conceded that he often used “very poor judgment” during his first marriage and the lengthy separation that followed.
But DesJarlais said he is not the same man who supported his first wife’s decision to have two abortions. The physician-turned-congressman said he also deeply regrets sexual relationships with multiple women, including two patients, three co-workers and a drug company representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper.
DesJarlais, re-elected to a second term just two weeks ago, said he hopes voters will look at the job he has done while in office and will not judge him on his past.
“I am human,” he said during an hourlong interview with the News Sentinel. “I don’t think I ever put myself out there to be somebody that was perfect. I put myself out there as somebody who wanted to serve the public.”
He added, “I will serve as long as the people want me to serve.”
…DesJarlais said the charges of hypocrisy are unfair because, he said, his anti-abortion views have evolved over time but had not been formed when his wife aborted her pregnancies.
“I guess as a physician, I was a fairly objective person,” he said of his beliefs at the time. “I try not to be a judgmental person. (Abortion) was just not something that I put as much thought into as I should have, in retrospect. Going back, if I could change and do things differently, certainly I would.”
DesJarlais said his first wife’s abortions helped to eventually shape his anti-abortion views. Another factor in that evolution, he said, was his marriage to his second wife, Amy, a decade ago. Amy DesJarlais had gotten pregnant in high school, but chose to get married and have the child. Her husband died in a mining accident when the child was 3, and she later married DesJarlais, who helped raise her son, Tyler, now 17.
“I can’t imagine not having Tyler as my son,” he said. “That certainly had a major influence on my life and my beliefs.”
Regarding the phone conversation in which he was recorded urging a sexual partner to get an abortion, DesJarlais said he knew the woman wasn’t pregnant and that he was trying to get her to admit it. In his divorce transcript, however, the woman insists that she was pregnant, although she declines to give the outcome of that pregnancy.
Despite the woman’s testimony, DesJarlais insists that she was not pregnant. “She was not pregnant by me,” he said. “I don’t think she was pregnant period.”

Haslam Defends Teacher Evaluation System

Gov. Bill Haslam has defended the state’s new teacher evaluation process against critics who argue that negative consequences for educators who perform poorly should be delayed while kinks in the program are worked out, reports Andy Sher.
“I think it’s really important that we not give up on this process too quick,” Haslam told reporters. “And if it’s the right thing to do for next year, I’m not sure why it’s not the right thing to do for this year.”
The governor noted the evaluations were proposed by his predecessor, Phil Bredesen, and passed by the General Assembly. They were the key factor in Tennessee winning a $500 million federal Race to the Top grant to carry out education reform, he said.
“We’ll let the process work out,” Haslam said. “Remember, this is November and we started [the new evaluations] in September. It’s not like we really have a long track record in this. It takes a little bit of adjusting to get used to evaluations.”
…Haslam said the first evaluation, “because it is the one with lesson plans, does have the most paperwork involved. I think when we get past that the evaluations after that will look a little different.”