Scott DesJarlais

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Scott DesJarlais
Scott DesJarlais, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Lincoln Davis
Personal details
Born Scott Eugene DesJarlais
(1964-02-21) February 21, 1964 (age 51)
Des Moines, Iowa
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan (div.2001)
Children 4
Residence Jasper, Tennessee
Alma mater University of South Dakota
Profession Physician
Religion Episcopalian
Website Official website

Scott Eugene DesJarlais[1] (/ˈdʒɑːrl/; born February 21, 1964) is an American politician and physician currently serving as U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 4th congressional district after winning re-election on November 4, 2014.[2] The district, the state's largest, stretches across a large and mostly rural swath of East and Middle Tennessee. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life, education, and medical career[edit]

DesJarlais was born in 1964 in Des Moines, Iowa,[3] the son of Joe DesJarlais, a barber, and Sylvia, a registered nurse at Fort Meade Veterans' Hospital in South Dakota. He has undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Psychology from the University of South Dakota and earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. He was originally from Sturgis, South Dakota, and moved to East Tennessee in 1993.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 2009, DesJarlais entered politics, filing papers to challenge Democratic incumbent Lincoln Davis,[5] as well as Independents Paul H. Curtis, James Gray, Richard S. Johnson, and Gerald York.[6] DesJarlais defeated Davis 57%-39%,[7] the third-largest defeat of a Democratic incumbent in the 2010 cycle, and the first time that an incumbent had been unseated in the district since its creation in 1983.


DesJarlais was challenged by Democratic nominee and state senator Eric Stewart. Prior to the 2012 election, the Fourth District was significantly altered as a result of redistricting. Notably, Murfreesboro, formerly the heart of the 6th District, was shifted into the 4th. The redrawn 4th contains about half of the constituents who resided in the former 4th district, with 14 of 24 counties being moved elsewhere by redistricting.[8] For a time, it was thought that DesJarlais would face a primary challenge from state senator Bill Ketron, a Murfreesboro resident and the chairman of the state senate redistricting committee. However, Ketron decided that he wouldn't run.

During the election campaigns, events from DesJarlais' personal life became public, making the 2012 race against Stewart "one of the ugliest Tennessee congressional races in decades".[9] Stories that surfaced included the fact that during the divorce proceedings, DesJarlais' first wife Susan had alleged that her ex-husband engaged in "violent and threatening behavior".[10] Court filings revealed that he had at least four affairs.[11] One was with a female patient. According to the Huffington Post, tapes that DesJarlais himself recorded, show that he pressured her to have an abortion after she became pregnant.[12][13] A second woman came forward, stating that she began dating DesJarlais while she was his patient. She alleges that the two smoked marijuana together and he prescribed pain medications for her while at his house.[14]

In October 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested that the Tennessee Department of Health investigate evidence that DesJarlais had a sexual relationship with a patient, an allegation that could open the congressman to disciplinary action for potentially violating medical ethics.[15][16] In November 2012, the same group filed another complaint against DesJarlais with the Office of Congressional Ethics, claiming that the Congressman lied about a telephone conversation with a former patient and mistress.[17]

DesJarlais defeated Stewart 56%-44%[18][19] joining all the other incumbent members of Tennessee congressional delegation who also won their re-election bids.[20]


DesJarlais was considered one of the most vulnerable Congressmen, because of revelations in October 2012 that he had prescribed drugs to a patient with whom he was having an affair and had pressured his former wife and former mistress to have several abortions. He was re-elected in 2012 with a reduced majority.[21] Despite these vulnerabilities, DesJarlais managed to hold his seat.[22] [23]

State Senator Jim Tracy challenged DesJarlais in the primary.[24] At the end of June 2013, Tracy had raised nearly $750,000 (including over $300,000 in the second quarter of 2013) for his bid.[25] He raised an additional $150,000 in the fourth quarter and reported $840,000 cash-on-hand.[21] By contrast, at the end of September, DesJarlais reported $170,000 cash-on-hand.[21] DesJarlais won the primary by a margin of 38 votes. Tracy decided not to challenge the results, despite citing irregularities.[26]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

DesJarlais divorced his first wife, Susan, in 2001; they have one child.[27] DesJarlais and his second wife, Amy, have three children and live in Jasper, a town about 30 miles west of Chattanooga, in Marion County.

Personal Scandal[edit]

On November 15, 2012—two weeks after the election—the Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained a transcript of DesJarlais' 2001 divorce proceeding with his first wife. It revealed that DesJarlais had admitted under oath to at least six sexual relationships with people he came in contact with while chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper. Among them were at least two patients. The state Democratic Party had fought to get the transcript released before the election, but the transcript—which ran to 679 typed pages—was not complete at the time. The transcript also revealed that contrary to his staunch anti-abortion stance as a congressman, he had counseled his then-wife to have two abortions and pressured one of the patients with whom he'd had an affair to get an abortion. Additional transcripts revealed that he had prescribed pain pills to at least one patient with whom he'd had an affair—a clear conflict of interest.[28][29][30]

Health Concerns and Cancer Diagnosis[edit]

In July 2014, DesJarlais announced he was undergoing aggressive chemotherapy to treat lymphoma.[31] The cancer and chemotherapy were attributed to limiting Desjarlais' ability to make appearances and to campaign.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Campaign contributions". Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  2. ^ "Bad boys survive to win re-election". CNN. Nov 06, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2015.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Henry, Larry (Aug 23, 2010). "Tight race forecast in 4th Congressional District". Chattanooga Times Free Press. 
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ "General Election State Candidates". Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Tennessee Election Results". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Collins, Michael (2012-10-26). "DesJarlais has to scramble with new district alignment » Knoxville News Sentinel". Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  9. ^ "Scott DesJarlais holds lead (with video)". Chattanooga Times Free Press. November 7, 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  10. ^ Woods, Jeff (September 16, 2010). "Papers from DesJarlais' Bitter Divorce Pop Up in Media". National Scene. 
  11. ^ Scott DesJarlais' Second Mistress: Another Woman Claims Affair With Tennessee Congressman, by Michael McAuliff, Huffington Post, 28 October 2012
  12. ^ McAuliff, Michael (October 10, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais, Pro-Life Republican Congressman And Doctor, Pressured Mistress Patient To Get Abortion". Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressed mistress to get an abortion, report says". 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  14. ^ "2nd Scott DesJarlais girlfriend talks". Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  15. ^ Sisk, Chas (Oct 16, 2012). "Rep. Scott DesJarlais faces ethics complaint over relationship". The Tennessean. Retrieved Oct 29, 2012. 
  16. ^ Viebeck, Elise (October 15, 2012). "Ethics complaint filed against DesJarlais". The Hill. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  17. ^ Barton, Paul C. (Nov 27, 2012). "Watchdog group files ethics complaint against Rep. Scott DesJarlais". The Tennessean. Retrieved Nov 29, 2012. 
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  19. ^ "Tennessee election results". CNN. November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "DesJarlais Wins Second Term Despite Scandal". (Nashville: CBS). Nov 06, 2012 Updated: Nov 07, 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  21. ^ a b c Emily Cahn (January 27, 2014). "DesJarlais Primary Challenger Flush With Cash for 2014". Roll Call. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  22. ^ Hamby, Peter. "Bad boys survive to win re-election". CNN. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Isenstadt, Alex. "Good election year for bad boys of Congress". Politico. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  24. ^ Sher, Andy (January 3, 2013). "Tracy kicks off campaign to take on DesJarlais". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  25. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (July 10, 2013). "DesJarlais Challenger Posts Big Fundraising Haul #TN04". Roll Call. Retrieved July 11, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Jim Tracy will not contest 38-vote loss to Scott DesJarlais". The Murfreesburo Post. 
  27. ^ "Old Divorce File Riles Tennessee". Roll Call. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  28. ^ Michael McAuliff (2012-11-16). "Scott DesJarlais Approved Wife's Abortion, Slept With Coworkers, Patients, Court Records Say". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  29. ^ "U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais fined for sex with 2 patients". Times Free Press. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  30. ^ Chris Carroll; Kate Harrison (2012-11-15). "Scott DesJarlais supported ex-wife's abortions, slept with patients, divorce transcript shows". Chattanooga Times Free Press. 
  31. ^ Barton, Paul (11 July 2014). "Rep. DesJarlais fighting cancer". USA Today. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Wilson, Brian. "Ill health restricts Scott DesJarlais campaign". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lincoln Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 4th congressional district

January 3, 2011 – present
Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jeff Denham
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Sean Duffy