NASHVILLE — A Democratic “super PAC” says today it is spending $180,000 on a second round of television ads attacking Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais.
House Majority PAC officials, who spent $100,000 earlier on an attack ad over revelations the Republican congressman once pressed a woman he’d seen romantically to seek an abortion, said they are launching the second round of attacks on the Jasper physician following disclosures in the Times Free Press over the weekend.
In a Sunday story, a second woman acknowledged that she had a sexual relationship with DesJarlais while under his medical care in 2000.
“Another day, another disturbing revelation about Scott DesJarlais’ hypocritical and inappropriate behavior,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a prepared statement. “The bottom line is this: Scott DesJarlais shouldn’t be in Congress.”
DesJarlais, whose campaign platform includes his opposition to abortion rights, has said that, with the first woman, there was no pregnancy and no abortion. He said he used “strong language” with her to try to get her to admit that she wasn’t pregnant.
The second woman described DesJarlais to the Times Free Press as “the nicest guy,” but said “his biggest thing that’s completely unethical is him just picking up women while he’s a doctor. I mean, seriously, that’s his big no-no.” She also said she and DesJarlais had used drugs together, an assertion that could not be independently verified.
DesJarlais’ campaign has not disputed the second woman’s assertions but said she had reached out to DesJarlais’ wife and said her comments had been taken out of context. She left a message with the Times Free Press expressing the same concerns but did not return later calls by a reporter.
During the time the affairs occurred, DesJarlais was legally separated from his then-wife, Susan, in a years-long bitter divorce. Their divorced was finalized in 2001. DesJarlais later remarried and the couple says they have a solid relationship.
DesJarlais’ campaign, meanwhile, released a memorandum from its pollster saying the 4th Congressional District congressman “continues to hold a solid double-digit lead” among likely voters in his contest with Democrat Eric Stewart.
“Fully 49 percent of voters say they are voting for DesJarlais, which 36 percent are siding with Eric Stewart,” pollster Rob Autry with Public Opinion Strategies said the survey of 400 likely voters found.
The poll, conducted Oct. 22-23, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
“The negative ads from the Stewart campaign and his liberal supporters appear to have helped solidify the Democratic base here, but done little to change this race among Republicans and Independents,” Autry said.
He said the congressman “continues to have solid support among Republican voters” with 82 percent saying they are voting for him. The pollster also said DesJarlais leads by double digits among independents.
Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...