Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy’s congressional campaign says the Shelbyville lawmaker raised nearly $436,485 during the first quarter in his bid to oust “scandal-ridden” U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 2014 primary, reports Andy Sher. Tracy has raised more than twice the $205,000 that state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, said last week his exploratory committee has amassed.
And Tracy said he still has $400,000 in cash on hand after expenses.
Tracy’s finance chairman, Shane Reeves, said in a news release Sunday the senator’s “robust fundraising totals coupled with his strong grass-roots organization put him in the best position to defeat the scandal-ridden incumbent.”
,,,Campaign finance reports for the Jan. 1-March 30 period are due today to the Federal Election Commission.
DesJarlais last month held a major fundraiser in Washington. He has yet to release his first-quarter report. But Tracy’s campaign noted the senator’s first-quarter figures far exceed the $68,000 DesJarlais reported in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Reeves said Tracy’s figures “speak volumes.”
Congressman Scott DesJarlais, as a crusader against government anti-obesity efforts, applauds a Judge;s decision striking down New York City’s attempt to prohibit the sale of large containers of soft drinks, reports Michael Collins.
“I think it does send a message that both people and the courts reject that aggressive government overreach — certainly it was evident in New York,” said the Republican from Jasper, Tenn.
DesJarlais is looking closely at the New York ruling as he contemplates refiling a bill that would stop what he calls “taxpayer-funded attack ads” against soft drinks and other food and beverages.
DesJarlais first filed the legislation last year amid reports that $230 million in federal economic-stimulus funds had been used to pay for anti-obesity efforts that, in many cases, targeted the soft-drink and fast-food industries. Industry groups, including the Beverage Association of Tennessee, have called the ads unfair and misleading.
The bill went nowhere, so DesJarlais is trying to decide whether he should try again or look for an alternative way to tackle the issue. One option would be to amend a different bill to achieve the same goal. Another option would be to delve into the issue through congressional hearings on government waste.
The court ruling and the federal government’s cost-cutting directive that went into effect last month, the congressman says, would seem to provide “a target-rich environment for going after government overregulation of this type.”
“The further we look into federal tax dollars being used as antagonists against American businesses, we’re going to probably find a playing field that’s going to look in favor of the taxpayers and against the government,” he said.
Powerful congressional Republicans shrugged off a lingering abortion scandal Tuesday, hosting a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., as he escalated his quest for a third term, reports Chris Carroll. Six prominent Republicans, including three House committee chairmen, facilitated a closed-door DesJarlais event at an upscale Capitol Hill restaurant Tuesday evening. DesJarlais and two aides declined to comment as they walked in the door, so it was unclear how much campaign cash surfaced.
A few hours before DesJarlais allies gathered to dine and donate, one Republican leader praised the Jasper resident’s work ethic.
“DesJarlais has been a good, solid member of the [agriculture] committee,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said. “Very positive force in the farm bill markup last year. That’s really all I can say.”
Lucas ended the interview when asked to comment on news that rocked Tennessee’s 4th District last year.
A medical doctor, the anti-abortion Jasper, Tenn., congressman generated headlines in October and November after interviews and documents revealed he had sex with his patients and encouraged one to get an abortion. DesJarlais won a second term, but court documents later showed he supported his ex-wife’s two abortions while he was married to her.
A small throng of protesters gathered at War Memorial Plaza on Sunday in a rally organized by conservative activists, including tea party members, to oppose extending TennCare to tens of thousands of Tennessee families, reports The Tennessean. They claimed that an expansion would undermine small government values and inflate the national debt. On a bright and breezy day, about 100 demonstrators carried handwritten signs suggesting that their anger stretched beyond the issue of TennCare expansion with messages like “entitlement programs create more dependency and harm.” Many of the speakers blasted President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul as an instance of the federal government overstepping its constitutional powers.
“There are always well-intended groups suggesting that we abandon our principles contrary to sound conservative judgment,” said Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, who filed a measure in the House to bar the state from expanding TennCare. “That’s the exact mindset that got our country into the dire fiscal straits we face today.”
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais spoke in broad terms about how Obamacare represents “the socialization of our health care system.” Asked by reporters after he spoke about his position on TennCare expansion, he said he opposes it. “To look at history and say, ‘let’s double down on a failed policy’ doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
For more reporting on the rally, see Andy Sher, and WPLN.
At least 18 donors to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais have pledged money, support or both to the congressman’s opponent, adding to a growing list of defections amid personal scandals and political fallout, according to the Chattanooga TFP. Along with 25 state legislators, the 18 DesJarlais donors publicly have endorsed state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in the 2014 Republican primary for the 4th District. Tracy is the only candidate so far to challenge the Jasper, Tenn., physician, whose re-election campaign and victory celebration were rocked by revelations from his long-ago divorce.
“I was not aware they’d given to DesJarlais,” Tracy said in a recent interview. “I didn’t go back and check, to be honest with you. I just called people.”
Interviews with donors established a common dichotomy: public praise for Tracy and private disappointment in DesJarlais. The former supporters simply don’t see their congressman the same way after salacious revelations spurred ethics complaints and a collective cold shoulder from current and former Republican officials,
In his first extensive comments on Tennessee’s most controversial congressman, Gov. Bill Haslam stopped short of endorsing Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais for re-election in 2014, reports Chris Carroll. The governor’s careful statements came last week during an interview at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Pressed repeatedly, Haslam declined to say whether he’ll support DesJarlais if the Jasper physician runs for a third term.
“I think everybody’s kind of clear what the issue is there,” Haslam told editors and reporters, “and I think he’ll have a good bunch of … competition.”
As the ostensibly anti-abortion physician vied for re-election last fall, it emerged he slept with a patient and pressured her to have an abortion. The Times Free Press later disclosed he supported his ex-wife’s abortions and had sexual relationships with another patient and several co-workers at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.
..”Well, you’ve got some other people who might run, as well,” Haslam said with a laugh. “I’m not in that district. I’ll let that district vote. I’m going to vote for [Knoxvillian and longtime U.S. Rep.] Jimmy Duncan for my congressman.”
State Sen. Jim Tracy defended himself Wednesday against House Democrats who say his legislation requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before abortion is a politically motivated move that would invade doctor-patient relationships, reports the Daily News Journal. “The protection of human life and the unborn is very important to me,” said Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican who represents a portion of Rutherford County. He added he believes in the measure “from the bottom of my heart.”
Tracy, who announced he is running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, in the 2014 Republican primary for the 4th District that includes Rutherford County, contends the bill is consistent with his views and is simply an effort to inform pregnant women before they make a “life-altering decision.”
When he announced his candidacy last month at Reeves-Sain Drug Store in Murfreesboro, Tracy made note of his 100 percent pro-life voting record and accused DesJarlais of deceiving voters in last year’s election.
Records made public after the vote showed that DesJarlais agreed for his former wife to have two abortions.
— UPDATE Note: See also Andy Sher’s report on the same subject.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ first “Coffee with the Congressman” in Murfreesboro erupted into an argument over gun control Friday with constituents shouting at each other inside the venerable City Cafe, reports the Daily News Journal. Florence Tolbert of Murfreesboro and Rebekah Majors-Manley of Bell Buckle butted heads toward the end of DesJarlais’ visit over the rights of Americans to use high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons.
The heated discussion was spurred by requests from Murfreesboro resident Sara Mitchell, a veteran, who told the congressman she doesn’t believe civilians should have access to high-capacity magazines and that a better background check is needed for weapons purchases, in addition to improved mental health care.
“Right now, what I’m hearing in my 10 coffee shop visits across the 16 counties so far is you’re in the minority with that opinion right now,” said DesJarlais, who earlier contended that citizens need the right to bear arms to fend off a tyrannical government. “That we feel those rights are protected under the Second Amendment …”
“So does the Second Amendment guarantee me the right to have a nuclear weapon if I can afford it?” Mitchell asked.
“I don’t think that that’s the case. I don’t think it allows you to have a machine gun. There’s laws that are on the books now,” DesJarlais responded.
…As DesJarlais cut off the conversation, Tolbert continued to point out that laws should not be made based on emotion, and she and Majors-Manley had an up-close conversation.
Embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., has told a Nashville television station WKRN that state Health Department investigators have already spoken to him about complaints that he had sex with at least two patients, one of whom he urged to get an abortion in 2000. “You know I have talked to constituents back home and for the most part, people I have talked to have been very supportive, pleased with the job I did in the last Congress,” the congressman told Nashville’s News 2 as he begins his second term.
“We saw a lot of TV both nationally, and certainly here in TN with a lot of politics of personal destruction I think people are ready to focus on the problems at hand.”
All this follows the Tennessee Democratic Party releasing the Pro-Life Congressman’s 2001 divorce transcripts shortly after his November re-election by 12-points over Democrat Eric Stewart.
It showed that while practicing medicine, DesJarlais dated a few patients, urged of one to get an abortion, and consented to an abortion for his then-wife.
DesJarlais has said in “God has forgiven him,” and “has asked constituents and fellow Christians to do the same.”
“I think that as you go through life, we make mistakes, and learn from them,” he said Friday. “We try to move on and be better for it. Sometimes in life, fortunately, we are given second chances.”
The divorce records also drew a medical ethics complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health from the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“Again, this is a 13 to 14 year old issue and I am working with them in full cooperation,” said DesJarlais.
He was asked if he had recently met with the Tennessee Health Department officials. “Yes, they had some questions and I answered them.”
State Sen. Jim Tracy, 56, of Shelbyville, plans formally to declare his candidacy for the 4th District Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais today in Murfreesboro, reports Andy Sher. In a statement, Tracy, an insurance agency owner and eight-year legislative veteran, said, “It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to challenge the incumbent from my own party. For the good of the people of the 4th Congressional District, who hold our Tennessee values dear, a change in leadership is a must.”
Tracy said a “place like Washington, D.C., requires someone of integrity and character.”
That’s intended as a direct challenge to DesJarlais, who first was elected in 2010 and touts his anti-abortion rights stances.
During his 2012 campaign against Democrat Eric Stewart, DesJarlais was rocked by revelations that he slept with at least two patients in 2000, urged one of them who said she was pregnant by him to get an abortion and faced other issues.
Efforts to reach DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
After state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, announced last month that he had formed a committee to test the waters for a campaign against DesJarlais, Jameson said the congressman “is completely focused on the job he was elected to do by residents of the 4th District.”
— UPDATE: DesJarlais was asked about Tracy’s candidacy by Cara Kumari. His response as reported on her blog: A: “I think I probably speak for everybody that we’re all a little campaign weary. I’m ready to focus on the job I was elected to do and there will be plenty of time to talk campaigning in a year or so.”
Q: “How do you make amends to the voters who believe you lied to them?”
A: “I have people all over the district that have been calling and coming up to me and thanking me for the job I’m doing and wanting me to continue to represent them the way that I have. So the rhetoric we’re hearing in the news is not what I’m hearing from my constituents.”