Deeper hole for DesJarlais

Deeper hole for DesJarlais

November 3rd, 2012 in Opinion Times

The scandal-ridden campaign of Tennessee's 4th District physician-congressman Scott DesJarlais took another downhill tumble this week when a second former lover -- and, like the first, another former patient of the doctor -- recounted to this paper's Chris Carroll how she and DesJarlais were engaged in a sexual affair for six months in 2000 and jointly used illicit drugs. He also prescribed pain medication for her when they were on dates, she said.

"His biggest thing that's completely unethical is him just picking up women while he's a doctor," she said of DesJarlais. "I mean, seriously, that's his big no-no ... He's just a hound."

DesJarlais' subsequent attempt to pass her off as "a noncredible anonymous source who is lying" bombed when she stepped up later in the week up to reaffirm the accuracy of her account. Her name was also listed in the court record of DesJarlais' divorce proceeding as another of the four women with whom he was accused of having affairs.

DesJarlais has been trying desperately, of course, to shift the focus of attention on him from his scandalous and professionally unethical behavior to his customary political boilerplate rhetoric. He should not be surprised that that does not work. His family-values and anti-abortion positions have been shredded by the revelations about his personal conduct, and his opposition to Obamacare is also undermined. In one taped phone recording that he himself made, for example, he tried to persuade another lover, whom he also met when she came to him as a patient, to get an abortion.

As a result the scandal, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) recently filed a formal complaint to the Tennessee Department of Health requesting an investigation of DesJarlais' professional conduct. In the wake of the second lover's account, CREW has asked the state for an expedited review of his case to avoid undermining public confidence in professional medical standards, and appearing to leave patients vulnerable to predatory physicians.

There's good reason for the investigation. Experts on medical ethics strongly affirm the traditional standard that condemns personal sexual contact with patients always as an unethical abuse of trust.

DesJarlais and his die-hard supporters apparently think they can persuade committed Republicans and other voters to disregard the congressman's undeniably hypocritical and unethical conduct, and vote to re-elect him anyway. Voters are not that delusional. Some may prefer one political party over another, but who would really want to vote for someone who deceitfully claims to walk the walk, while actually engaging in conduct that mocks their standards. Scott DesJarlais should acknowledge that, and call off his bid for re-election.