Tag Archives: scott

Haslam Dodges on DesJarlais; Endorses Duncan

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.”

Tracy Defends Ultrasound Bill

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.

Guns Inspire Shouting at DesJarlais ‘Coffee With the Congressman’

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.

DesJarlais Has Talked with Health Department Investigators

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.”

Jim Tracy Announces as Candidate for 4th Congressional District

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.”

AP Roundup of GOP Governors on ‘Obamacare’ (TN gets just a mention)

ATLANTA (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who made a fortune as a health care executive, long opposed President Barack Obama’s remake of the health insurance market. After the Democratic president won re-election, the Republican governor softened his tone. He said he wanted to “have a conversation” with the administration about implementing the 2010 law. With a federal deadline approaching, he also said while Florida won’t set up the exchange for individuals to buy private insurance policies, the feds can do it.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie held his cards before saying he won’t set up his own exchange, but he’s avoided absolute language and says he could change his mind. He’s also leaving his options open to accept federal money to expand Medicaid insurance for people who aren’t covered. The caveat, Christie says, is whether Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius can “answer my questions” about its operations and expense.
Both Republican governors face re-election in states that Obama won twice, Christie in 2013 and Scott in 2014. And both will encounter well-financed Democrats.
Their apparent struggles on the issue, along with other postures by their GOP colleagues elsewhere, suggest political uncertainty for Republicans as the Affordable Care Act starts to go into effect two years after clearing Congress without a single Republican vote. The risks also are acute for governors in Democratic-leaning or swing-voting states or who know their records will be parsed should they seek the presidency in 2016 or beyond.
“It’s a tough call for many Republican governors who want to do the best thing for their state but don’t want to be seen as advancing an overhaul that many Republicans continue to detest,” said Whit Ayers, a consultant in Virginia whose clients include Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican who didn’t announce his rejection of a state exchange until days before Sebelius’s Dec. 14 deadline.

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Lamar & Bob Talk Medicare Cuts and Other TN Fiscal Cliff Notes

Alexander, Corker Join on Fiscal Cliff, Medicare Cuts:
Focus on Medicare, Not Taxes During news conferences on Friday, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker predicted that the “fiscal cliff” tax situation will be resolved and decried another “fiscal cliff no one wants to talk about, the looming bankruptcy of Medicare,” reports the Bristol Herald-Courier.
There was a lot more reporting on the matter. A sampler:
Congress will act within days or weeks — perhaps even this weekend — to stem any increase in income taxes for almost all Americans in response to an inevitable public outcry, The Tennessean reported.
“I would like them (taxes) to stay the same (for everybody), but I am not king here,” Alexander said at a joint press conference with his Tennessee colleague.
The article also has comments from the two senators saying they still think they did the right thing in voting for the package of legislation that brought on the “fiscal cliff.” U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais offer similar comments — though Blackburn voted for the bill in question, DesJarlais against.
From the News-Sentinel: U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said Friday taxes will not increase for most Americans and insisted “fiscal cliff” negotiations will either address pending hikes before Monday’s deadline or through retroactive legislation in the new year.
With that confidence, Tennessee’s senators turned to spending cuts and offered a proposal to exchange a $1 trillion reduction in entitlement spending — mostly from Medicare — for a $1 trillion rise in the federal debt ceiling.
“Taxes is not the biggest uncertainty,” Alexander said. “That is the possibility that all of those Americans who depend on Medicare to pay for their medical bills to fall off the fiscal cliff because Medicare goes bankrupt.”
The plan, which the senators have dubbed the “Dollar for Dollar Act,” was introduced by Corker on Dec. 12. Its details include reforming Medicare to include competition from private health-care options, gradually raising the eligibility age to 67 by 2027, requiring high-income beneficiaries to pay higher premiums and giving flexibility to the states to manage the program.

Total Dereliction of Duty’
CBS News aired a Corker interview wherein he chides President Obama and congressional leaders for “a total dereliction of duty at every level” and “a lack of course to deal with the spending issues.”
“I’m very surprised that the President has not laid out a very specific plan to deal with this,” said Corker, admitting, “Candidly, Congress could have done the same. And I think the American people should be disgusted.”
While Corker granted that “98 percent of the people in our country can be assured…their income taxes are going to be the same,” he argued, “We here in Washington are going to hurt the American economy, we’re going to hurt Americans at every level, and to me it’s just a travesty that we’ve not been willing to deal with this issue.”
And Corker did not predict much progress from (Friday’s) meeting between the President and congressional leaders, predicting a “worst case scenario” in which “We’ll kick the can down the road…we’ll do some small deal, and we’ll create another fiscal cliff to deal with this fiscal cliff.”

There’s a Milk Cliff,, Too
Tennessee dairy farmers soon could get paid substantially higher prices for their milk, but they’re not relishing the prospect, says The Tennessean. Instead, they fear it could make milk so expensive — potentially as much as $6 to $8 a gallon, by some estimates — that even more people stop drinking it.
“I don’t think it would kill our industry, but it would seriously injure it,” said Deborah Boyd, secretary/treasurer of the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association.
Those “dairy cliff” fears are based on Congress’ inability to pass a new five-year farm bill to replace one that is set to expire on Monday. The bill outlines how the federal government determines prices paid to dairy farmers.
Unless a new bill is passed or the current one is extended — Congressional leaders said Friday they were working on an extension — a 1949 law would take effect. That law would force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay roughly $38 per 100 pounds for milk, or double the current prevailing price.
Experts say that would ultimately increase the retail price for milk, which now averages $3.59 a gallon, as well as for other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt
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DesJarlais: Republicans Frustrated
House Republicans feel stymied but not hopeless as they prepare to return to Capitol Hill for possible last-minute action to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais tells The Tennessean.
DesJarlais, of Jasper, Tenn., was one of 234 members of his caucus who listened in on a conference call Thursday with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. Boehner said the House will return to work Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and remain in session in case lawmakers and President Barack Obama reach agreement on a deal to avoid more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that will otherwise take effect on Tuesday. Economists fear the combination could jar the nation’s economy back into recession.
DesJarlais said in an interview from his Tennessee home Thursday that it’s up to the Senate to come forward with a plan now, an opinion also expressed by Boehner. “But all we are hearing is crickets,” DesJarlais said. Asked if Republicans feel a lack of hope about a possible solution, he said, “It’s more frustration.”

DesJarlais Donors of 2012 Backing Carr for 2014

Some of those signed on as supporters of state Rep. Joe Carr’s “exploratory campaign” for the 4th Congressional District seat made political donations to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in this year’s campaign, reports Chris Carroll.
Records show at least four of Carr’s early boosters — including a powerful auto dealer, a physician and a former Rutherford County GOP chairman — gave DesJarlais a combined $12,900 during his 2010 and 2012 campaigns for Congress.
Carr’s exploratory committee is headed by auto dealer Lee Beaman, a big fish in Middle Tennessee Republican circles who has given $7,400 to DesJarlais.
Asked about his $2,000 DesJarlais contribution this year, Murfreesboro dentist Dr. Nate Schott said he cut a check “long before I found out what happened.”
…DesJarlais spent $1.26 million on his re-election, depleting his current campaign balance to $16,000, records show.
Campaign manager Brandon Lewis has said: “We are confident that we will continue to receive support from like-minded conservatives and small-business organizations.”
But Dr. Ron McDow, a retired family medicine physician and owner of a medical device company, said he regrets the $1,000 he contributed in 2010. He’s in Carr’s camp now.
“I haven’t read everything that’s been published, and these things all occurred well before Dr. DesJarlais ran for Congress,” McDow said. “But Joe Carr doesn’t have the baggage hanging over him.”

Democrats File Separate Complaint Against DesJarlais

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

Joe Carr Sets Up Exploratory Committee for 4th Congressional District Race

News release from state Rep. Joe Carr:
Lascassas, Tenn.–State Representative Joe Carr, from Tennessee’s 48th District has announced the formation of a campaign exploratory steering committee focused on testing the waters in a potential bid for Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District. The district stretches across 16 counties in southern middle and east Tennessee. The exploratory committee will be tasked with determining the viability of a successful run to replace U.S. Congressman Scott DeJarlais in the 2014 Republican Primary.
“The formation of the exploratory committee is in response to an outpouring of people from all across the 4th congressional district, asking me to consider running for this office. The voters have told me that a trust has been violated. The voters want someone who not only lives by their values but will fight for them. The time for back slapping good ole boy politics is over and Tennesseans understand this,” said Carr. “I’m extremely proud to represent my fellow Tennesseans in the 48th legislative district and will continue to do so while my family, friends and I determine what is in the best interest of this great state”, said State Representative Joe Carr, 48th Legislative District.
Lee Beaman will chair the committee and in offering his support of Representative Carr said; “we need someone like Representative Carr who understands the principles of personal responsibility and a smaller more efficient government. Joe understands the policy needs of Tennessee and is able to effectively communicate those positions. I certainly hope Joe pursues this.”

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