Roll Call has an interesting piece on U.S. House Republicans planning their politicking for the upcoming August piece. And, not surprisingly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has localized it – for Tennessee purposes, an attack on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
Here’s an excerpt from the Roll Call blog article: The August House Republican Conference planning kit, titled “Fighting Washington for All Americans,” offers a rare glimpse into the constituent outreach efforts of the GOP. Those efforts, it turns out, are highly calculated, hashtag-heavy and rife with references to the video app Vine.
The best way to stay in Washington appears to be to deride Washington, and Republican leadership isn’t going to deviate from that familiar formula.
Of the many topics Republicans could delve into — the impending debt ceiling debate, immigration or, perhaps, the sequester — the 31-page GOP packet focuses on safer ground: Obamacare, jobs and the fierce hatred of all things Washington.
It includes a cookbook of events largely aimed at whacking the Obama administration and highlighting House Republicans’ efforts to fight it — while using social media every step of the way.
There’s an “Emergency Health Care Town Hall,” for starters, with detailed recipes on where to hold the event, how to promote it — tweet it, Vine it, Instagram it, Facebook it — and how to hold an “impromptu” media availability to “frame the key takeaways.”
Riva Litman, the spokeswoman for Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, said it is the job of the House Republican Conference to equip members with “the tools and resources they need to take our message to all corners of this country.”
And here’s the DCCC DesJarlais-bashing press release:
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.
From the TFP’s Alison Gerber: At a time when many newspapers are scaling back coverage and closing bureaus, the Times Free Press is doing something to buck the trend. We’re sending a reporter to Washington, D.C. and reopening the bureau we closed there in 2008.
Reporter Chris Carroll, who covers politics for the newspaper, moves to Washington this week. And, while D.C. reporters are notorious for practicing “pack journalism,” where everyone follows the herd to the biggest story of the day, Carroll won’t be following anyone. That’s not his nature nor his assignment.
He’ll be there to cover Washington through the lens of what readers in Tennessee and Georgia care about and report on the states’ congressional delegations. And this is a good moment in time to do that.
For the full editorial page column, click HERE.
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — The Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office has a better way of getting around in rugged terrain because of a military surplus donation.
Sheriff Mike Hensley told The Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/TGB4ew ) the department now has two humvees that can be used to get to remote locations.
The department already had some four-wheel-drive SUVs, but they don’t have the off-road capabilities of the military vehicles.
“We use them on patrol, and we don’t want them to be torn up if we can keep from it, Hensley said of the standard sport utility vehicles. “They’re not designed to go into disaster areas like (the humvees) are.”
Hensley said his department recently picked up the vehicles in South Carolina at no cost to the county. Nearby Washington and Carter counties previously used the military surplus program to obtain vehicles. In fact, it was Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal who suggested Hensley look into the surplus program. Six weeks from when he applied, the vehicles were ready.
“It’s a good asset for the county,” Hensley said of the military’s surplus program. “That means we don’t have to buy it and we can use it. It is a good program.”
The four-wheel-drive Humvees have high ground clearance and will be used for off-road travel and also on snow-covered roads.
Hensley said maintenance records will be kept and the humvees must be kept by the department for a specified time, but then could be sold if no longer needed and the funds would go to the county. The sheriff said his department is checking what other surplus equipment is available.
“Since the war is winding down in Afghanistan, there’s more equipment coming in, and anything we can use here we’re going to try to get,” Hensley said.
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
The headline on a Washington Post story, datelined Whites Creek, Tenn., suggests that Mark Clayton may be “2012’s worst candidate.” It begins like this: The Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee has no campaign headquarters, a fundraising drive stuck at $278 and one yard sign. Not one type of yard sign. One sign.
And with the election just days away, he has not actually put that sign in a yard. Instead, it resides inside candidate Mark Clayton’s pickup. “VOTE FOR,” the sign says. The rest is hidden by the seats.
“Jesus did not have a campaign staff. And he had the most successful campaign in human history,” Clayton said recently, when asked if all this adds up to a winning run against incumbent Sen. Bob Corker (R). Jesus “didn’t even have pictures or a Web site.”
This may be America’s worst candidate.
Clayton, 36, is a part-time flooring installer, an indulger in conspiracy theories — and for Democrats here, the living personification of rock bottom. In a state that produced Democratic icons including Andrew Jackson and both Al Gores, the party has fallen so far that it can’t even run a good loser.
Instead, it has this guy. In Tennessee, Clayton’s unlikely run is providing an absurdist coda to a long Democratic disaster. Something like falling down a flight of stairs onto a whoopee cushion.
“It’s pretty sad. I mean, when your nomination is not worth having, that’s embarrassing,” said Will T. Cheek, a Nashville investor who has been a member of the state Democratic Party’s executive committee since 1970. “That would appear to be where we are.”
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.
In a story on Weston Wamp’s reliance on Zach Wamp in campaigning for the 3rd Congressional District seat, Chris Carroll reports that the father once helped his son seek work in Washington with Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
Zach Wamp made the initial call to set up his son for an interview with Chip Saltsman, who at the time was Fleischmann’s campaign manager, according to Saltsman. The to,e was about a month after Zach Wamp had lost the August, 2010, Republican gubernatorial primary and Fleischmann had won the 3rd District Republican primary to replace Zach Wamp in Congress.
“He wanted me to give Weston a job interview,” Saltsman says. “I told him I would.” Zach Wamp’s pattern of helping his son continues now that Weston Wamp is challenging Fleischmann for the 3rd District seat, from tapping his old donor network to knocking on voters’ doors.
Now Fleischmann’s chief of staff, Saltsman said Weston Wamp once viewed Fleisch-mann as a potential Capitol Hill employer, not part of “the status quo” he criticizes almost daily in his quest to win his father’s old office.
Two sources confirmed Saltsman’s account, but both Wamps challenged it.
…As Saltsman remembers the 2010 meeting at Fleischmann’s Chattanooga campaign headquarters, the younger Wamp didn’t bring a resume and asked to be Fleischmann’s press secretary.
“I went into it with an open mind — Weston is well spoken and certainly does not lack in confidence,” Saltsman said. “But his conversation was a lot more about him and his skill set as opposed to why he wanted to work for Chuck.”
Weston Wamp denied that, saying he visited Saltsman to offer Fleischmann help on social media and online outreach — duties normally handled by a congressional press secretary.
“There was nothing about a job,” Weston Wamp said.
Saltsman said he decided against hiring Weston Wamp, adding that he called Zach Wamp to deliver the news.
“Zach did not agree with that decision,” Saltsman said. “Obviously a father’s going to lobby hard for his son.”
After more than 28 years at the helm and five days away from the start of early voting, the Washington County Election Commission voted 3-2 to fire Administrator of Elections Connie Sinks, reports the Johnson City Press. “I had no warning,” Sinks said by telephone Friday.
Exactly one week ago, Sinks fired one staff member and demoted another for sending a handwritten cover letter to three commission members in November asking that they use accompanying materials for a meeting that may or may not have occurred. An employee found the letter in a box of documents that were about to be shredded.
At that meeting, Sinks informed commissioners of her actions and blasted Chairwoman Janet Willis, and commissioners Jon Ruetz and Thomas Graham for being the recipients, or intended recipients of the letter without her knowledge and for not providing public notice of a meeting.
All three commissioners denied receiving the letter, a copy of which clearly shows them as the intended recipients. They also denied there was ever a meeting.
When she showed up Friday morning for a continuation of last week’s meeting, the same three people voted to fire her after Willis stood and read aloud a prepared statement that asked for a vote on Sinks’ termination.
“I had a feeling they were working behind my back,” Sinks said. “I felt like there would be retribution. Basically, they felt I had humiliated the commissioners for saying they hadn’t put out a public notice. Janet told me to take my pocketbook and leave my office keys and that they’d see that I got my personal items back. I went to my office and was out of there in about five minutes.”
Washington County Election Commission Administrator of Elections Connie Sinks fired one staff member and demoted another Friday, reports the Johnson City Press. The offense: Sending a handwritten cover letter to three members in November asking that they use accompanying materials for a meeting that may or may not have occurred. “You can’t run elections when you don’t trust your staff,” Sinks said.
After consultation with County Attorney John Rambo, Sinks fired Rebecca Vines, an administrative assistant, for insubordination, claiming the employee alerted the three members about the November meeting and that public notice was never given.
The letter was discovered in a box of documents that were ready to be shredded.
In the letter, Vines writes that she is including a list of 2012 election information prepared for the meeting and that “I have handwritten this cover letter because I didn’t want to risk it with the office computer.” Vines also wrote that “Maybell and I wanted to get this material to you quickly so you will be ready for your lunch meeting this coming Monday.”