Tag Archives: Scott Desjarlais

DesJarlais backs Trump

From the News Sentinel
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais on Monday became the first member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation to say he is supporting Donald Trump for president.

The South Pittsburg Republican said in a statement released by his office that he voted for the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star during early voting.

“Republicans are fortunate in that we have an incredibly strong field of candidates running in the Republican Presidential Primary,” DesJarlais said. “While there are certainly things that I admire and respect in each of the remaining candidates, I believe Donald Trump is the candidate best poised to make America great again. As such, I was proud to cast my vote for Mr. Trump.”

Starrett boasts of $728K in campaign cash

Republican Grant Starrett raised $91,699 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 for his GOP primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 4th Congressional District, reports the Times-Free Press.

Starrett finished the year with $728,773 in cash on hand, according to the attorney’s Federal Election Commission fourth-quarter filing.

But $226,561 in debts and obligations takes that down to $500,000 as the 27-year-old attorney prepares to do battle with DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician.

DesJarlais won the 2014 contest by 38 votes over GOP challenger Jim Tracy in the sprawling, largely rural district that stretches from Bradley County over to Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.

Starrett’s total nine-month haul in 2015 for this year’s challenge was $917,846… including) $226,561 came from personal loans made by Starrett himself.

“Raising more than $900,000 in nine months shows that conservatives continue to rally behind Grant Starrett’s visionary campaign for Congress,” said Tommy Schultz, Starrett’s campaign manager. “Tennesseans are looking for a faithful conservative like Grant who will go to Washington and fight for our country’s future.”

Starrett, who was born and raised in California, continued to receive the vast majority of his contributions from outside Tennessee, let alone the 4th Congressional District, according to the candidate’s latest disclosure.

And DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson noticed.

“Grant Starrett has raised less than 1 percent of his funds from within Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District,” Jameson said. “His campaign can try to spin this however they like, but the fact is Grant has gained no support in the district.

“Now,” Jameson charged, “his plan is to use huge sums of out of state money to try and buy a congressional seat. Unfortunately for him, the Fourth District is not for sale.”

All TN GOP congressmen outraged with UT diversity guidelines

All nine of the Tennessee’s Republicans in Congress have denounced UT Office of Diversity guidelines that suggested holiday parties should not be “a Christmas party in disguise,” reports Michael Collins.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek should resign if he had anything to do with the guidelines, which are posted on the website of UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Ramsey also hinted that the university could be stripped of its state funding.

“If the University of Tennessee cannot keep its house in order the General Assembly must shift funding to the University of Memphis, ETSU or other institutions of higher learning that don’t embarrass us nationally on a regular basis,” Ramsey wrote on Facebook.

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican, slammed the holiday party directive as “nonsense” and said he would encourage the Tennessee General Assembly to investigate and, where necessary, “ensure that tax dollars are not being expended on this kind of frivolity.”

“Much like the federal government, which has strayed into far too many areas, universities should spend their time and resources on their primary goal – preparing graduates for the real world,” DesJarlais said. “When offices are wasting time and energy on drafting memos like what we have seen from this particular department, taxpayers in our state are rightfully outraged at the silliness of it all.”

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, a Gallatin Republican, said the guidelines — which suggested faculty and staff holiday parties should not be “a Christmas party in disguise” — would be laughable “if only the implications for students were not so serious.”

“With these rules, the UT Office of Diversity and Inclusion is not promoting diversity — it is stifling it,” Black said. “This kind of hyper-political correctness is not representative of the UT Volunteer spirit that our state has come to know and love, and it has no place on the university’s campus. Between these offensive, Scrooge-like guidelines, and the school’s much-maligned attempt at regulating gender-neutral pronouns, it is past time for Chancellor (Jimmy) Cheek to get a handle on the university’s affairs or make way for someone who can.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, a Johnson City Republican, said the Constitution “guarantees our freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

“Christmas is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, and it’s ridiculous that a public institution would issue guidance limiting religious freedoms,” he said. “It seems to me a better path to inclusive holiday celebrations would be to encourage every member of the UT community to take pride in and celebrate their own faith as well as the different faiths of their colleagues.”
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Blackburn, DesJarlais only TN no votes on education reform bill

Seven of the nine Tennesseans in the U.S. House backed an education-reform bill Wednesday that has been a longtime pet project of Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, reports Michael Collins. It will keep in place federal testing requirements but will give states the freedom to decide how schools, teachers and students will be held accountable.

The House voted 359-64 to give its final approval to the legislation, putting Congress on the verge of scrapping the No Child Left Behind law enacted in 2001 under then-President George W. Bush.

The new proposal, a compromise worked out by the House and Senate, leaves some of the provisions of the 14-year-old law intact but dumps others that parents, educators and other critics have argued aren’t working. The Senate is scheduled to give its final OK to the measure next week and send the proposal to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

In the House, the only Tennesseans to vote against the new measure were U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg
Republican, and Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Brentwood. DesJarlais said he opposed the compromise bill because it fails to sufficiently curtail government overreach in the nation’s schools.

…U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., a Knoxville Republican, recalled that he was one of 45 House members who voted against No Child Left Behind in 2001.

“This turned out to be one of the most popular votes I ever cast, especially with teachers. …The No Child Left Behind law was a great overreaction to failed schools in some of our nation’s biggest cities, and it needs to be replaced,” Duncan said during a speech on the House floor.

Under the new law, annual tests in reading and math would still be required for children in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But states would decide how to use students’ performance on the tests to assess teachers and schools.

The federal government also would be barred from mandating or offering incentives to states to adopt any particular set of standards, such as Common Core, which has been the target of much criticism in Tennessee.

Starrett banks more cash than DesJarlais; has TN donors

Challenger Grant Starrett held the fundraising edge over incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in third quarter fundraising, but it wasn’t by much and the congressman continues to dominate contributions coming from people in the 4th Congressional District, reports the Times Free Press.

Federal Election Commission filings show 27-year-old challenger Starrett, an attorney from Murfreesboro, raised $92,909 in the July 1-Sept. 30 period versus $78,360 for DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician who two years ago was reeling from revelations about his scandalous pre-congressional personal life.

But when it comes to cash on hand, Starrett holds a better than 3-to-1 advantage over DesJarlais, who won the GOP primary in 2014 by a cat’s whisker against state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville.
…Starrett’s campaign war chest stood at $693,510 on Sept. 30. DesJarlais reported $208,186 cash on hand, according to his disclosure. Starrett has raised $599,586 in the past two quarters. During the second quarter he also loaned his campaign $226,561.

Starrett’s campaign manager, Tommy Schultz, said in a statement that “the goal of every campaign is to raise as much money as possible, as early as possible. And we’re doing just that.”

…DesJarlais’ campaign has criticized Starrett, a California native who lived in Williamson County outside the 4th District before deciding to run and moving to Murfreesboro, as an opportunist who is “simply using his parents’ money” and family ties to run.

Starrett’s 4th District contributions included $250 from Joseph Riley of Etowah, who listed himself as a U.S. Army officer, and Jim Barrier of Columbia.

Other Tennessee donors outside the 4th include attorney/lobbyist Lee Barfield of Nashville, brother-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; and David Colquitt, a regional manager with Pilot Flying J, the firm owned by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and his family, which gave $1,000.

Dewitt Thompson of Nashville gave $200. His address matches that of Dewitt Thompson IV, who is a part owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team.

Former Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Richardson Williams of Knoxville gave $500 to Starrett.
Contributors outside Tennessee included several investment bankers and financial advisers from California, New York and Jackson, Wyo.

DesJarlais defends ‘misunderstood’ House Freedom Caucus

In interviews with Tennessee media, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is defending House Republicans’ Freedom Caucus against what he says is unfair criticism.

From from Michael Collins’ story (Commercial Appeal version):

Among establishment Republicans, the caucus has a reputation as being a bunch of stubborn, uncompromising rascals hellbent on getting their way, even if it means taking down their leaders and leaving the House in a suspended state of turmoil.

But DesJarlais insists the caucus is getting a bad rap. “I think it’s a misunderstood group,” he said.

As proof, DesJarlais points to the group’s choice for House speaker. DesJarlais wanted the next speaker to be the Freedom Caucus’ chairman, Jim Jordan of Ohio. But the caucus backed Rep. Daniel Webster, a little-known Florida Republican who is not a member of the organization “and, frankly, doesn’t have the most conservative of scores,” DesJarlais said.

Regardless, Webster’s promise to change the process and the power structure in the House struck a chord with the caucus “because it lets every member be relevant,” DesJarlais said.

“No one gets their way all of the time,” he said. “But there are members in the Republican conference that, if you’re not a good fundraiser or you don’t go along with leadership, you get pushed to the back and you often don’t get committees that you’re perfectly capable of serving on. And you don’t get legislation brought to the floor.

“That’s what the House Freedom Caucus is all about, bringing that voice back to the conference as a whole — not getting their way all of the time.”

DesJarlais thinks McCarthy probably made the right decision in getting out of the speaker’s race and sees his downfall as just the latest sign that the country wants new direction and new leaders.

From The Daily News Journal:

DesJarlais contends that he and his fellow House Freedom Caucus members should not be criticized for the conservative principles they expect from the speaker.

“It’s sad that there are members within our Republican Caucus that seem to be doing that to a group of 40 people who are very talented and very capable of doing the job they were elected to do,” the Republican lawmaker from South Pittsburg said during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “They see it as a threat to the K Street (where lobbyists work) power structure that rules this town.”

DesJarlais disagrees with complaints that the Freedom Caucus was making too many demands on retiring House Speaker John Boehner and in the selection of Boehner’s successor.

“They think we should be more compromising,” said DesJarlais, noting that he must represent expectations from his constituents in Tennessee, which includes Rutherford County.

Different takes from Duncan, DesJarlais on U.S. House speaker flap

Tennessee Republican Congressmen John J. Duncan Jr. and Scott DesJarlais offered differing commentary Thursday the chaos caused by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt decision to abandon his campaign for House speaker, reports Michael Collins.

(T)he Knoxville Republican, the longest-serving Tennessean in Congress, offered words of caution to the party’s hard line conservatives whose die-hard opposition to McCarthy caused him to pull out of the race to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

“Conservatives in our party need to realize that everybody can’t be as conservative as maybe they want them to be,” Duncan said.

McCarthy’s withdrawal, announced just as House Republicans were about to cast their votes for their nominee for speaker, was “a shocker for everybody,” Duncan said, leaving the GOP scrambling for someone to step into the void and emboldening far-right conservatives who are pledging to push one of their own for the job.

“I have fought as hard as anybody could fight throughout my entire life for the conservative cause, especially for fiscal conservatism,” Duncan said. “But you can’t just coalesce around one little tiny segment of the party and win elections. You have to be open to a broader cross section of the party to win elections.”

…DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican and a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus that opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, said McCarthy’s sudden decision to get out of the race “gives us a real opportunity to give the people what they want, and that is a new direction in leadership.”

“We need a fresh face. We need a new approach,” said DesJarlais, who was the only Tennessee Republican to vote against re-electing Boehner as speaker earlier this year.

DesJarlais bashed on abortion by primary foe

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is coming under fire from GOP challenger Grant Starrett’s campaign for passing up an opportunity to grill Planned Parenthood’s chief during a U.S. House hearing, reports Andy Sher. A Desjarlais spokesman says the congressman simply deferred to Republican women.

“Scott DesJarlais just showed the American people why Washington, D.C., is so hated and why he is unfit to be a congressman,” Starrett campaign manager Tommy Schultz charged in a statement.

…Left unsaid by Starrett’s campaign were DesJarlais’ past controversies over abortion. Court records from his 2000 divorce, released in 2012, revealed the pro-life physician went along with his then-wife’s decision to obtain two abortions and encouraged a former patient with whom he’d had an affair to undergo the procedure as well.

DesJarlais has long said his life changed dramatically when he remarried, that he has since found God and has voted “100 percent pro-life.”

His spokesman, Robert Jameson, said Wednesday there was a simple reason why the South Pittsburg, Tenn., lawmaker yielded his time.

“There were several Republican women from other committees that asked for time to be yielded to them by members of the House Oversight Committee so they would have an opportunity to weigh in and participate in the hearing,” Jameson said. “I think all those with pro-life values would understand the import of having [Republican] congressional women weigh in on this issue.”

Jameson said Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, who doesn’t serve on the panel, had asked DesJarlais for his time so she could question Richards.

…Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor who follows the 4th District, said he doesn’t see the Starrett campaign’s apparent strategy on DesJarlais and abortion as terribly effective.

“It’s not like DesJarlais is voting to fund Planned Parenthood,” Oppenheimer said. “He let someone else rake them over the coals. Maybe it resonates, but with whom? The question is, can you keep adding them up and keep piling them up and that’s hard to do. It’d be easier if [DesJarlais] went off the reservation and then people would go, ‘Wow.'”

TN congressmen on Boehner resignation

News release statements from members of the Tennessee congressional delegation:

From Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued a statement on Speaker John Boehner’s impending retirement.

“Speaker Boehner is a very honorable man who always tries to do the right thing. He understands that compromise is in our job description,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, he had a nearly impossible job leading an increasingly unreasonable and right-wing party that refuses to work with Democrats for the good of the nation.”

From Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburgh
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) released the following statement after the announcement of Speaker John Boehner’s resignation:

“I am certainly thankful for Speaker Boehner’s career of public service in the House of Representatives. However, Tennessee’s Fourth District has long held the belief that Republican leadership needed a new direction. That is why in January I voted against John Boehner for Speaker of the House. Now we must come together as a conference to ensure we elect a consistent, conservative leader.”

From Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga
WASHINGTON− Congressman Chuck Fleischmann released the following statement following Speaker John Boehner’s retirement announcement.

“Speaker John Boehner has helped build the largest Republican majority in the House since 1928 and has been a great public servant throughout his tenure. He has represented the people of Ohio and our conference with dignity, dedication and honor. As we move forward I am confident we will fill his void and continue to fight to reduce the size of government and make it more accountable, transparent and efficient.”

From Sen. Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following statement on the retirement of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

“John Boehner has always tried to do what is best for the country. He has been a strong Speaker in a tough environment. Boehner’s successor will have exactly the same challenges and responsibilities that he has had: to demonstrate that Republicans can both adhere to our conservative principles and govern during serious times.”

From Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement on Speaker Boehner’s resignation:

“I thank the Speaker for his service to our great nation – and I respect his decision. His resignation as Speaker will allow the House Republican Conference to concentrate on the many issues that face our country.”

Rep. John Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, via News Sentinel

“One of the most important lessons I have learned in political life is that things always look easier from a distance,” Duncan said. “Speaker Boehner has a very difficult job. Whoever comes in next will probably have a short honeymoon period, but they will then face the same challenges Speaker Boehner encountered as long as there is a very liberal White House to contend with.”

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, via Commercial Appeal

“While he and I are on different sides of the aisle and different sides of many issues, I have always respected his dedication to public service,” Cohen said. “I know he truly cares about our nation and, regrettably, his tenure as Speaker of the House has been during one of the most divisive periods in Congress. Even so, he was able to bring the House together on several occasions. I wish him well.”

Lee Beaman is money man on Starrett ‘leadership team’

Well-known Nashville businessman and Republican donor Lee Beaman is serving as finance chairman for Grant Starrett, who’s mounting a Republican primary challenge against 4th District Congressman Scott DesJarlais, reports The Tennesseean.

Beaman already donated to Starrett’s campaign, but the campaign announced this week that Beaman would assist in an official role.

“Grant is a true conservative. And I have known him for a number of years and have a tremendous respect for his heart, his intellect and his conservative values,” Beaman said Friday in a phone interview with The Tennessean.

Owner of Beaman Automotive, Beaman also is a member of the board at conservative think tank The Beacon Center of Tennessee; a contributor in the past to conservative political action committee Americans for Prosperity; and a member of numerous leadership boards across the Greater Nashville area.

Beaman has donated to DesJarlais in the past, but he also helped state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in his bid to oust DesJarlais last election cycle. Tracy lost in the GOP primary for the 4th Congressional District, an area that includes Murfreesboro and several counties in south-central Tennessee, by 38 votes.

…”If Mr. Beaman chooses to support a 27-year old trust fund kid from California who has absolutely no ties to Tennessee’s Fourth District, then that is certainly his right. I am surprised though with all the money Grant has raised from his parent’s friends in California that Grant didn’t just go ahead and name his father,” (DesJarlais spokesman Robert) Jameson said in an emailed statement.

Note: News release on the Starrett campaign “leadership team” is below.
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