NASHVILLE — GOP challenger Grant Starrett's latest political mail attack on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., has the congressman crying foul about "morally reprehensible" tactics and demanding the 28-year-old attorney apologize to 4th Congressional District Republican primary voters.
The mailer, which began hitting voters' mailboxes earlier this week, accuses the congressman of having been "silent on life" and features a picture of DesJarlais with tape over his mouth beside a doctored "Planned Parenthood" cooler marked "Dead Baby Parts $500."
It's an intended hit on DesJarlais for not having joined in with GOP House committee colleagues' questioning of Planned Parenthood's chief last year over allegations the nonprofit abortion provider "sold" abortion fetus parts to medical companies.
"Even liberals in his home state of California, would be repulsed by Grant's morally reprehensible campaign tactics," DesJarlais campaign spokesman Robert Jameson said of the mailer, one of four that Starrett has sent out in recent days.
Jameson said "Grant should apologize to voters in the Fourth District for subjecting them to this trash, pack his bags and head back to his parents' mansion in Beverly Hills. Clearly, politics is not his calling in life."
But Tommy Schultz, Starrett's campaign manager, said the mailer is fair and accurate and that the congressman should be the one apologizing.
"Scott DesJarlais has repeatedly demonstrated that he's not willing to lead the fight against our nation's crises," Schultz said. "He's silent on when life begins. He's silent when the Supreme Court misreads the Constitution to make abortion a special right. He's silent when the nation's largest abortion provider comes to his committee to defend selling dead baby parts."
Schultz said DesJarlais "should apologize to the voters of the 4th District for betraying their values. Tennessee will elect Grant Starrett because we want a fighter who will protect life, rebuild our military, and reform food stamps."
Meanwhile, a Federal Election Commission filing shows Starrett loaned his campaign another $200,000 last weekend, bringing the total he has loaned to his effort to $575,00. He also has contributed nearly $25,000 to his campaign.
DesJarlais has charged the Vanderbilt University Law School graduate, who moved into the district last year to run, is a "trust fund millionaire" and dubbed him "Mr. California" in television ads and a mailer.
The congressman said last year he handed his time for questioning Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards last over to a congresswoman since Richards is a woman.
This story was updated July 22, 2016 at 6:15 p.m. after Starrett's campaign provided a comment for the article.