Tennessee’s top Democrat is demanding Gov. Bill Haslam’s staff release text messages with the governor about revelations U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who is also a doctor, had a sexual relationship with a former patient.
The call for the text messages comes a day after a second DesJarlais patient said she also had a sexual relationship with DesJarlais. The GOP congressman is seeking re-election in the 4th District.
“DesJarlais ran his medical practice like a Craigslist cat house and now he’s mad that people are upset about it,” said Chip Forrester, executive director of the Tennessee Democratic Party who has called for DesJarlais’ resignation.
On the national level, the Democratic Party is in the midst of pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the congressional race that pins DesJarlais against Democrat state Sen. Eric Stewart. The district stretches from Smyrna to Chattanooga and includes a swath of West Tennessee.
DesJarlais admitted he had a relationship with a patient while he and his wife were separated. Transcripts of the conversation reveal the pro-life candidate had pressured the woman to have an abortion. DesJarlais said the woman was never pregnant and said the issue is “old news.”
According to Forrester, the state Democratic Party requested copies of text messages from the governor’s office. The governor's office confirmed it has seven business days to respond to the open records request, which was filed a week ago.
Forrester, who is leaving his leadership post at the end of the year, charges that “Scott DesJarlais shouldn’t be in Congress. He should be in jail,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill Monday.
Since 2005, the state has disciplined five doctors for having consensual relationships with their patients, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.