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Scott DesJarlais

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Scott DesJarlais
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byLincoln Davis
Personal details
Scott Eugene DesJarlais

(1964-02-21) February 21, 1964 (age 60)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Susan DesJarlais (div. 1998)
Amy DesJarlais
(m. 2002)
EducationUniversity of South Dakota (BS, MD)
WebsiteHouse website

Scott Eugene DesJarlais[1] (/ˈdʒɑːrl/; born February 21, 1964) is an American politician and physician serving as the U.S. representative for Tennessee's 4th congressional district since 2011. The district stretches across 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, to Joe DesJarlais, a barber, and Sylvia, a registered nurse. He grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota.[2] Over ten years he, his parents and his brother and sister built their own house in Sturgis; his parents still live there.[3] DesJarlais earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Psychology from the University of South Dakota in 1987 and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in 1991.[4] He moved to East Tennessee in 1993 to practice medicine as a generalist.[5]

DesJarlais is an Episcopalian.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



DesJarlais is a member of the Tea Party movement.[7] In 2009 he entered politics, filing papers to challenge Democratic incumbent Lincoln Davis,[8][9] as well as Independents Paul H. Curtis, James Gray, Richard S. Johnson, and Gerald York.[10]

Late in the 2010 race, the Washington newspaper Roll Call reported details of DesJarlais's 2001 divorce proceedings, which showed that his ex-wife accused him of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse.[11][12][13] The Davis campaign used the material in print and TV attack ads and told Roll Call that Fourth District voters "expect[ed] more than lip service about family values."[14]

DesJarlais defeated Davis 57%–39%.[15]


During his first term, DesJarlais represented a district that stretched almost diagonally across the state from coal-mining regions near Knoxville, the Tri-Cities and Chattanooga to the outer suburbs of Nashville.

By the 2012 election, the Fourth District had been significantly altered as a result of redistricting. It lost all of its northeastern portion and was pushed west to take in suburban areas closer to Nashville, including Murfreesboro, previously the heart of the 6th district. The redrawn 4th contained about half of the constituents who resided in the former 4th district, with 14 of 24 counties moved elsewhere.[16]

DesJarlais was challenged by Democratic nominee and state senator Eric Stewart. 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, but Ketron did not run. DesJarlais defeated Stewart 56%–44%,[17][18] joining all the other incumbent members of Tennessee congressional delegation in winning reelection.[19]


In 2014 DesJarlais's seat was considered vulnerable, as controversy over the divorce record revelations returned to the fore. He had been reelected in 2012 with a reduced majority.[20] DesJarlais held his seat.[21][22]

State senator Jim Tracy challenged DesJarlais in the primary.[23] 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.[24] He raised an additional $150,000 in the fourth quarter and reported $840,000 cash on hand.[20] By contrast, at the end of September, DesJarlais reported $170,000 cash on hand.[20] DesJarlais won the primary by 38 votes. Tracy decided not to challenge the results, despite citing irregularities.[25]


In January 2016 Politico rated Tennessee's Fourth District one of the top five primary races to watch,[26] and in March ranked DesJarlais one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the 2016 cycle;[27] he was one of only two Tennessee incumbents to face serious challenge.[28] His primary opponents were attorney and conservative activist Grant Starrett, attorney and physician Yomi "Fapas" Faparusi and economic data specialist Erran Persley.[29] The Murfreesboro Post described Starrett as "running to the right of DesJarlais". After winning the primary, DesJarlais beat Democrat Steven Reynolds in the general election by a margin of 30 points.[citation needed]


DesJarlais was again challenged in the primary, but won by 40 points. He went on to win the general election by almost 30 points.


In 2020 DesJarlais defeated Republican primary challenger Doug Meyer, a veteran and former police officer. Christopher Hale won the Democratic primary. Hale describes himself as a "pro-life Democrat" and strongly criticized DesJarlais for having pressured his mistress to get an abortion.[30]


In 2022 DesJarlais won re-election.


In December 2020, DesJarlais was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden defeated[31] incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.[32][33][34]

In June 2021, DesJarlais was one of 14 House Republicans to vote against legislation to establish June 19, or Juneteenth, as a federal holiday.[35]

In July 2021, DesJarlais voted against the bipartisan ALLIES Act, which would increase by 8,000 the number of special immigrant visas for Afghan allies of the U.S. military during its invasion of Afghanistan, while also reducing some application requirements that caused long application backlogs; the bill passed in the House 407–16.[36]

In 2022, DesJarlais was one of 39 Republicans to vote for the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, an antitrust package that would crack down on corporations for anti-competitive behavior.[37][38]

DesJarlais was among the 71 Republicans who voted against final passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 in the House.[39]

DesJarlais voted to provide Israel with support following 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.[40][41]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Freedom Caucus[42]
  • Republican Study Committee[43]
  • Republican Doctors Caucus
  • General Aviation Caucus
  • Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine
  • Congressional Skin Care Caucus
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus
  • Congressional Chicken Caucus
  • Congressional Taiwan Caucus
  • Congressional Range and Testing Center Caucus
  • Congressional Aluminum Caucus
  • Congressional Arthritis Caucus
  • Congressional Diabetes Caucus
  • Cystic Fibrosis Caucus
  • Malaria Caucus
  • Border Security Caucus[44]

DesJarlais was the first member of the House Freedom Caucus to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States.[45]

Sex, abortion, and drug scandals[edit]

In October 2012 the Huffington Post obtained a transcript of a September 2000 phone conversation in which DesJarlais pressured a mistress to get an abortion.[46][47] He repeatedly denied that he had taped the conversation. In October he wrote to supporters on Facebook, "The media wrongly reported that I recorded the conversation myself. I was recorded unknowingly and without my consent."[48] Nine days before the general election a second woman said that she began dating DesJarlais while she was his patient. She alleged that the two smoked marijuana together and that he prescribed opioids for her while she was at his house.[49][50]

Two weeks after DesJarlais won the 2012 election, the Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained a full transcript of his 2001 divorce proceedings.[51] The transcript revealed that he 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, Tennessee. Among them were three co-workers, two patients and a drug representative.[52] The transcript also revealed that his former wife had had two abortions,[52][53][54] and that DesJarlais had admitted under oath that he and his former wife had recorded the phone conversation with the mistress.[48] "One of the biggest mistakes I made was I commented to the press before I had the opportunity to go back and read a transcript that was 13, 14 years old," he said in an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel. "It was never my intention to mislead anyone, and had I read this, I don't think the inaccuracies that occurred would have taken place."[48]

Three weeks after he won the election, DesJarlais said on a conservative talk radio show on WWTN that "God has forgiven me" and asked "fellow Christians" and constituents "to consider doing the same."[55]

Formal reprimand[edit]

In October 2012, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested that the Tennessee Board of Health investigate evidence that DesJarlais had had a sexual relationship with a patient, in violation of the Tennessee Medical Practice Act.[56][57][58] The complaint was investigated and in May 2013 the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners formally reprimanded DesJarlais for having sex with patients and fined him $500, calculated by the Board as "$250 per patient",[59] and $1,000 in costs. He did not contest the charges.[54][60]

In November 2012, after further details of the divorce proceedings were published, CREW asked the House of Representatives' Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether DesJarlais had violated House ethics rules, asserting that he had "blatantly" lied when he denied having taped the telephone conversation.[61][62][63]

Personal life[edit]

DesJarlais and his second wife, Amy, have three children.[64] They live in South Pittsburg. They are members of the Epiphany Mission Episcopal Church in Sherwood, Tennessee.[65]

During a trial for his divorce from his first wife in 2000, DesJarlais testified that he had sexual affairs with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was working as a hospital chief of staff.[66]

Despite his public opposition to legal abortion, DesJarlais encouraged his ex-wife to terminate two pregnancies and encouraged a former patient with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion.[67]

In divorce documents, DesJarlais's first wife accused him of "dry firing a gun outside [her] locked bedroom door, admission of suicidal ideation, holding a gun in his mouth for three hours, an incident of physical intimidation at the hospital; and previous threatening behavior … i.e. shoving, tripping, pushing down, etc."[68]


In July 2014, DesJarlais announced he was undergoing aggressive chemotherapy to treat cancer in his neck that had spread to a lymph node.[69][70] In a campaign appearance during his illness he said the cancer had affected his voice[71] but added that the type is curable 90% of the time.[69] The cancer and chemotherapy caused him to lose over 40 pounds, limiting his ability to make appearances and campaign.[72] In June 2015, DesJarlais announced that he was cancer-free.[73]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Campaign contributions". OpenSecrets.org. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  2. ^ Henry, Larry (August 23, 2010). "Tight race forecast in 4th Congressional District". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  3. ^ "About". scottdesjarlais.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "Scott Desjarlais". Voteocracy. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  5. ^ "Tennessee's new U.S. representative a Sturgis native : Community". Rapidcityjournal.com. January 5, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Religious affiliation of members of 118th Congress" (PDF). Pew Research Center. January 3, 2023.
  7. ^ "Scott DesJarlais on Principles & Values". On the Issues. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Humphrey, Tom (August 20, 2009). "GOP Seeking Foes for Gordon, Davis". Tom Humphrey's Humphrey On the Hill. Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  9. ^ robertson, Campbell (October 8, 2010). "Anti-Incumbent Fervor Skips Tennessee District". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "General Election State Candidates" (PDF). Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  11. ^ Woods, Jeff (September 16, 2010). "Papers from DesJarlais' Bitter Divorce Pop Up in Media". Nashville Scene.
  12. ^ Sher, Andy (September 17, 2010). "DesJarlais divorce papers show abuse accusations". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Old Divorce File Riles Tennessee, archived from the original on October 7, 2010, retrieved May 3, 2016
  14. ^ Condon, Stephanie (October 13, 2010). "Nastiest Ad Yet? Lincoln Davis Accuses Opponent of Suicidal, Violent Behavior". CBS News. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  15. ^ "Tennessee Election Results". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Collins, Michael (October 26, 2012). "DesJarlais has to scramble with new district alignment". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  17. ^ "Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  18. ^ "Tennessee election results". CNN. November 2012. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  19. ^ "DesJarlais Wins Second Term Despite Scandal". NewsChannel5.com. Nashville: CBS. November 7, 2012. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c Cahn, Emily (January 27, 2014). "DesJarlais Primary Challenger Flush With Cash for 2014". Roll Call. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  21. ^ Hamby, Peter (November 5, 2014). "Bad boys survive to win re-election". www.cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  22. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (September 16, 2014). "Good election year for bad boys of Congress". Politico. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  23. ^ Sher, Andy (January 3, 2013). "Tracy kicks off campaign to take on DesJarlais". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  24. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (July 10, 2013). "DesJarlais Challenger Posts Big Fundraising Haul #TN04". Roll Call. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "Jim Tracy will not contest 38-vote loss to Scott DesJarlais". The Murfreesburo Post. January 17, 2023.
  26. ^ Bland, Scott; Meyer, Theodoric (January 2, 2016). "Top 9 primaries to watch in 2016". Politico. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  27. ^ "This once-embattled Congressman has raised nearly $140,000 so far in 2016". timesfreepress.com. Chattanooga Times Free Press. April 13, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  28. ^ Humphrey, Tom (April 8, 2016). "Only two of Tennessee's U.S. reps face serious re-election challengers". knoxnews.com. Knoxville News-Sentinel. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  29. ^ Stockard, Sam (May 17, 2016). "DesJarlais and Starrett lock horns ahead of primary". murfreesboropost.com. Murfreesboro Post. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  30. ^ Roe, Josh (September 28, 2020). ""Pro-Life" Democrat House candidate Christopher Hale on the attack vs. opponent DesJarlais". WTVC. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  31. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  32. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  33. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  34. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  35. ^ Grayer, Annie; Diaz, Danielle (June 16, 2021). "Congress passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday". CNN. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  36. ^ Quarshie, Mabinty (August 17, 2021). "These 16 Republicans voted against speeding up visas for Afghans fleeing the Taliban". USA Today. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  37. ^ "House passes antitrust bill that hikes M&A fees as larger efforts targeting tech have stalled". CNBC. September 29, 2022.
  38. ^ "H.R. 3843: Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022 -- House Vote #460 -- Sep 29, 2022".
  39. ^ Gans, Jared (May 31, 2023). "Republicans and Democrats who bucked party leaders by voting no". The Hill. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  40. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (October 25, 2023). "House Declares Solidarity With Israel in First Legislation Under New Speaker". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  41. ^ Washington, U. S. Capitol Room H154; p:225-7000, DC 20515-6601 (October 25, 2023). "Roll Call 528 Roll Call 528, Bill Number: H. Res. 771, 118th Congress, 1st Session". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved October 30, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ DeSilver, Drew (October 20, 2015). "What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who's in it?". Pew Research Center. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  43. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Archived from the original on January 1, 2019. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  44. ^ "Committees and Caucuses, U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais". House.gov. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  45. ^ Reid, Jon (February 29, 2016). "House Freedom Caucus Member Endorses Trump". morningconsult.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  46. ^ McAuliff, Michael (October 10, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais, Pro-Life Republican Congressman And Doctor, Pressured Mistress Patient To Get Abortion". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  47. ^ "Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressed mistress to get an abortion, report says". washingtonpost.com. October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  48. ^ a b c Harrison, James (November 16, 2012). "DesJarlais quiet as records contradict recent comments". nooga.com. Chattanooga Media Group. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  49. ^ "2nd Scott DesJarlais girlfriend talks". timesfreepress.com. October 28, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  50. ^ McAuliff, Michael (October 28, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais' Second Mistress: Another Woman Claims Affair With Tennessee Congressman". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  51. ^ The state Democratic Party had fought DesJarlais's lawyers to get the documents—which ultimately ran to 679 typed pages, as transcribed from court reporters' shorthand—released, but the court ruled that it could not be entered into the public record until it was properly transcribed in its entirety. DesJarlais lost the case, but the ruling came the day before the election.Carroll, Chris; Belz, Kate (November 6, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais divorce transcript released". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  52. ^ a b Carroll, Chris; Harrison, Kate (November 15, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais supported ex-wife's abortions, slept with patients, divorce transcript shows". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  53. ^ McAuliff, Michael (November 16, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais Approved Wife's Abortion, Slept With Coworkers, Patients, Court Records Say". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  54. ^ a b "U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais fined for sex with 2 patients". Times Free Press. May 24, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  55. ^ Chattanooga Times Free Press (November 30, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais says 'God has forgiven me'". wrcbtv.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  56. ^ Sisk, Chas (October 16, 2012). "DesJarlais faces ethics charge; Group says relationship broke code". The Tennessean. p. 1B, 6B. Retrieved October 29, 2012 – via Newspapers.com.
  57. ^ Viebeck, Elise (October 15, 2012). "Ethics complaint filed against DesJarlais". The Hill. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  58. ^ Representative Scott DesJarlais
  59. ^ "Consent Order" (PDF). May 20, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  60. ^ "CREW Statement Following TN Medical Board's Resolution of Complaint Against Rep. Scott DesJarlais". CREW. May 23, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  61. ^ Barton, Paul C. (November 28, 2012). "DesJarlais hit with ethics complaint; Watchdog group says lawmaker blatantly lied about call to mistress". The Tennessean. p. 1B, 4B. Retrieved November 29, 2012 – via Newspapers.com.
  62. ^ Collins, Michael (November 27, 2012). "Watchdog group files ethics complaint against Rep. Scott DesJarlais, accuses him of lying". Knoxville News-Sentinel. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  63. ^ "Request for Investigation into Conduct of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)" (PDF). CREW. November 27, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  64. ^ Collins, Michael (November 1, 2012). "DesJarlais spouse: He's a good husband and father". Knoxville News Sentinel.
  65. ^ "Scott's Story". scottdesjarlais.com. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  66. ^ Carroll, Chris; Belz, Kate (November 16, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais supported ex-wife's abortions, slept with patients". Times Free Press.
  67. ^ Holley, Peter (May 16, 2015). "Congressman who advised ex-wife to seek abortion votes for late-term abortion ban". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  68. ^ John, McArdle. "Old Divorce File Riles Tennessee". Roll Call.
  69. ^ a b Barton, Paul (July 11, 2014). "Rep. DesJarlais fighting cancer". USA Today. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  70. ^ "Scott DesJarlais diagnosed with cancer". Chattanooga Times Free Press. July 12, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  71. ^ Wilson, Brian; Willard, Michelle (October 14, 2014). "DesJarlais makes first appearance since cancer treatment". The Tennessean. Nashville. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  72. ^ Wilson, Brian (October 25, 2014). "Ill health restricts Scott DesJarlais campaign". The Tennessean. Nashville. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  73. ^ Broden, Scott (June 15, 2015). "Scott DesJarlais says he's cancer-free". Daily News Journal. USA Today. Retrieved April 27, 2016.

External links[edit]

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

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by