Campaign 2010

May 28, 2013

When Will House Republicans Stop Standing Behind Scott DesJarlais?

House Republicans appear poised to continue to give Congressman Scott DesJarlais authority over the health care system, even as a Tennessee medical board fined him for having sexual relationships with patients and pressuring one of them to get an abortion. Congressman DesJarlais serves in the Republican Doctors Caucus – which prioritizes “patient-centered reform,” as well as two committees that address the health care system.

“How dare this Republican Congress keep Scott DesJarlais in a position of authority over health care?” asked Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Until Republicans in this Congress strip Congressman DesJarlais of his influence over our health care, this will continue to prove that the Republican Congress isn’t on the side of women. From making Mark Sanford their newest face to voting against the Violence Against Women Act, leaving Scott DesJarlais in a leading health care role is just the latest signal that this Republican Congress isn’t serious about treating women with respect.”

Several incumbent members of Congressincluding Congressmen Darrell Issa, James Jordan, John Kline, Frank Lucas, Tom Price and Steve Scalise – have helped Congressman DesJarlais raise money for his re-election bid, even after his troubles were made public. Before winning the majority in 2010, then Congressman Eric Cantor said Republicans would hold a “zero-tolerance” policy on ethics but Republican leaders have repeatedly violated that pledge.

According to the Times Free Press, Congressman DesJarlais “must pay the $500 fine -- $250 per patient, according to the order -- within 60 days. Documents also show he's responsible for up to $1,000 in costs for the state's investigation.” [TimesFreePress.com, 5/24/13]

Background:

 

  •  Congressman DesJarlais Focuses on Protecting the Patient-Centered Relationship as a member of the Republican Doctors’ Caucus.Since its formation in March 2009, the GOP Doctors Caucus continues to play an effective role in protesting the largest overhaul of our nation’s health care system in history. Created by Dr. Phil Gingrey, M.D., (R-GA) and Dr. Tim Murphy, Ph.D, (R-PA), the Caucus is composed of 21 medical providers in Congress who utilize their medical expertise to develop patient-centered health care reforms focused on quality, access, affordability, portability, and choice.” [Republican Doctors Caucus, accessed 5/27/13]

 

  • Congressman DesJarlais and House Republicans Attempted to Redefine Rape. In 2011, both DesJarlais co-sponsored the House Republicans’ No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, a bill that would have redefined a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt only “forcible rape” and not “rape” generally. Under the language initially proposed by the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, rape would have become “forcible rape.” The Washington Post reported that the bill’s critics believed “the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.” [Washington Post, 2/01/11; HR 3 Co-Sponsors, 112th Congress]
  • Congressman DesJarlais Has a History of Having Sex With Patients and Pressured One to Have an Abortion. “A family practice doctor, DesJarlais was forced to empty his war chest when court records revealed a checkered past days before the election. Interviews and documents showed he had sex with two female patients and tried to persuade one to get an abortion.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/24/13]
  • Congressman DesJarlais Has a History of Getting His Patient/Lovers Gifts and Medications. “Court documents obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press confirmed that the anti-abortion politician supported his ex-wife’s abortions in the 1990s; slept with patients and co-workers while chief of staff at a Jasper hospital; bought expensive gifts for his patient-lovers; and prescribed one pain medication during their affair.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/24/13]

 

  •  Congressman DesJarlais Serves on the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives. According to the subcommittee’s web site: “The Health Care and District of Columbia Subcommittee holds the federal government accountable to taxpayers with a focus on drug policy, the District of Columbia, the Census Bureau, and federal records, as well as federal health care policy, food and drug safety, public support for the arts, libraries and museums, criminal justice, and transportation. Led by Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy this Congress, the Health Care and District of Columbia Subcommittee has examined the impact of Obamacare, focused on security, transportation, and education issues in the District of Columbia, and investigated abuses of Medicaid eligibility.” [Subcommittee web site, accessed 5/27/13]
  •  Congressman DesJarlais Oversees Employers’ Health Plans. The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions has jurisdiction over all matters dealing with relationships between employers and employees including, but not limited to, the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor-Management Relations Act, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act; the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and employment-related health and retirement security including pension, health, and other employee benefits and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). [Committee web site, accessed 5/27/13]