Head of Tennessee Democrats calls on Scott DesJarlais to resign

photo Chip Forrester, Chairman of Tennessee Democratic Party.
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester today called on Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais to resign.

Forrester's statement follows a report in the Times Free Press that a second patient of DesJarlais', a Jasper physician, said she'd had an affair with the lawmaker a dozen years ago.

At a news conference in Nashville, Forrester accused top Republicans, including Gov. Bill Haslam, of engaging in "a conspiracy of silence to protect and defend a man who deserves no defense at all."

"Dr. DesJarlais ran his medical practice like a Craigslist cathouse and now he's mad people are upset about it," Forrester said. "I've got news for him. Citizens and voters have a right to know whether their public officials have lived up to their own moral standards."

DesJarlais' campaign manager, Brandon Lewis, said in an email that "we have absolutely no intention of resigning" in the Nov. 6 contest with Democrat Eric Stewart for the 4th District congressional seat.

"Voters see this smear campaign for what it is: A desperate attempt to distract from Congressman DesJarlais' record of support for lower taxes, job creation and repealing Obamacare," Lewis said.

The congressman, first elected in 2010, has previously acknowledged that, in 2000, he pressed an unnamed woman with whom he'd had sex to get an abortion. DesJarlais said he knew the woman wasn't pregnant, that there was no pregnancy or abortion and that he was using "strong" language to get her to admit she wasn't pregnant.

The transcript emerged out of sealed documents in DesJarlais' 2001 divorce with then-wife Susan DesJarlais.

Last week, a second patient acknowledged in a Times Free Press interview that she had had a sexual relationship with DesJarlais. The woman spoke on condition she not be identified, but her name is included in the list of potential witnesses in the DesJarlais' divorce documents.