published Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Scott DesJarlais 'clearly misled voters,' Weston Wamp says


by Chris Carroll
Weston Wamp
Weston Wamp
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Statewide conservatives filled a void as elected Tennessee Republicans shied away from the latest on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

On Friday's edition of WTCI's "Tennessee Insider," former GOP congressional candidate Weston Wamp said DesJarlais "clearly misled voters" during a family-values campaign.

"This is, I think, much more evidence that he is frankly kind of a creepy guy," the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp said. He unsuccessfully opposed Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in this year's 3rd District campaign. "I hope he doesn't make it to the next primary ... and if he does, he'll get beat."

On Thursday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported online new information stemming from the congressman's 2001 divorce trial testimony. Among other revelations, DesJarlais said he supported his former wife's two abortions and had sexual relationships with two patients, three co-workers and a pharmaceutical saleswoman while serving as chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.

Court records also showed DesJarlais recorded a phone conversation in which he pressured one of his patient-lovers to get an abortion. Before his re-election Nov. 6, DesJarlais told supporters on Facebook that he was "recorded unknowingly and without my consent."

DesJarlais' office has not commented on those details. A spokesman emerged Friday to say his boss will not resign, news that disappointed the leader of Tennessee's largest and oldest conservative organization.

Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty told Nashville's WSMV the revelations are "ten times worse than we first thought."

"The hypocrisy has reached a level that I haven't seen in a long, long time," he said.

Tennessee Right to Life President Brian Harris told the Times Free Press he didn't know how DesJarlais' "tragic decisions have impacted or influenced his present views on the need to protect human life."

Historically supportive of Republican candidates, the state's most influential anti-abortion group did not endorse DesJarlais in 2010 or 2012 because of "his failure to demonstrate the level of leadership expected by this organization," Harris said.

Most of Tennessee's top Republican officeholders have declined to comment on DesJarlais. Other colleagues have given him the benefit of the doubt.

"If the pro-life movement was dependent on people who have always been pro-life, it would be a small movement," U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga, told Roll Call. "But there's plenty of former pro-choice people in the movement."

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