Scott DesJarlais

Scott DesJarlais
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
Des Moines, Iowa
Political party Republican
  • Susan DesJarlais (div. 1998).
  • Amy DesJarlais (m. 2002)
Children 3
Residence South Pittsburg, 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.[2] The district stretches across East and Middle Tennessee. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life, education, and medical career

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.[3] Over ten years he, his parents and his brother and sister built their own house in Sturgis; his parents still live there.[4] 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.[5] He moved to East Tennessee in 1993 to practice medicine as a generalist.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives



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.[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] 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. While the 4th has historically not been considered safe for either party, its size and configuration (it stretches across two time zones and parts of four television markets) usually makes it very difficult to oust an incumbent.


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.[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. However, Ketron decided that he wouldn't run. DesJarlais defeated Stewart 56%–44%[17][18] joining all the other incumbent members of Tennessee congressional delegation who also won their re-election bids.[19]

2012 scandals

Late in the 2012 election campaign, more events from DesJarlais's personal life became public, making the race against Stewart "one of the ugliest Tennessee congressional races in decades".[20] In October 2012 the Huffington Post obtained a transcript of a recorded September 2000 phone conversation in which DesJarlais pressured a mistress to get an abortion.[21][22] DesJarlais repeatedly denied that he himself 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."[23] Nine days before the general election a second woman came forward to state that she began dating DesJarlais while she was his patient. She alleged that the two smoked marijuana together and that he prescribed pain medications for her while at his house.[24][25]

Two weeks after DesJarlais won the 2012 election, the Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained a full transcript of DesJarlais's 2001 divorce proceedings.[26] The transcript revealed that DesJarlais had admitted under oath to at least six sexual relationships with people he came in contact with while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tennessee. Among them were three co-workers, two patients and a drug representative.[27] The transcript also revealed that he and his former wife had had two abortions.[28][29][27] The transcript also revealed that DesJarlais had admitted under oath that he and his former wife had recorded the phone conversation with the mistress.[23] "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."[23]

Three weeks after he won the election, DesJarlais announced on a conservative talk radio show that "God has 'forgiven me' and asked 'fellow Christians' and constituents 'to consider doing the same'."[30]

Formal reprimand

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.[31][32][33] The complaint was investigated and in May 2013 DesJarlais was formally reprimanded by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners for having sex with patients and was fined $500 - calculated by the Board as "$250 per patient"[34] - and $1000 in costs. He did not contest the charges.[35][36]

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.[37][38][39]


In 2014 DesJarlais's seat was considered vulnerable, as controversy over the divorce record revelations returned to the fore. He had been re-elected in 2012 with a reduced majority.[40] DesJarlais held his seat.[41][42]

State senator Jim Tracy challenged DesJarlais in the primary.[43] 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.[44] He raised an additional $150,000 in the fourth quarter and reported $840,000 cash-on-hand.[40] By contrast, at the end of September, DesJarlais reported $170,000 cash-on-hand.[40] DesJarlais won the primary by a margin of 38 votes. Tracy decided not to challenge the results, despite citing irregularities.[45]


In January 2016 Politico rated Tennessee's Fourth District one of the top five primary races to watch,[46] and in March ranked DesJarlais one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the 2016 cycle;[47] he is one of only two Tennessee incumbents to face serious challenge.[48] His opponents are attorney and conservative activist Grant Starrett, attorney and physician Yomi "Fapas" Faparusi and economic data specialist Erran Persley, all three of whom filed from Murfreesboro. The Murfreesboro Post described Starrett as "running to the right of DesJarlais".[49]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships


As of April 2016 Rep. DesJarlais has sponsored 14 bills, two resolutions and one joint resolution and has cosponsored 585 legislative actions.[52]

DesJarlais was the first member of the House Freedom Caucus to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States. [53]

Personal life

Scott and Amy DesJarlais have three children.[54] They live in South Pittsburg. They are members of the Epiphany Mission Episcopal Church in Sherwood, Tennessee.[55]


In July 2014, DesJarlais announced he was undergoing aggressive chemotherapy to treat cancer in his neck which had spread to a lymph node.[56][57] In a campaign appearance during his illness DesJarlais indicated that the cancer had affected his voice[58] but added that the type is curable 90% of the time.[56] The cancer and chemotherapy caused him to lose over forty pounds, limiting his ability to make appearances and campaign.[59] In June 2015 DesJarlais announced that he was cancer-free.[60]

See also


  1. "Campaign contributions". Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  2. "Bad boys survive to win re-election". CNN. November 6, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  3. Henry, Larry (August 23, 2010). "Tight race forecast in 4th Congressional District". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  4. "About". Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  5. "Scott Desjarlais". Voteocracy. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  6. "Tennessee's new U.S. representative a Sturgis native : Community". Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  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. "". 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". Nashville: CBS. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  20. Sher, Andy (November 7, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais holds lead (with video)". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  21. McAuliff, Michael (October 10, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais, Pro-Life Republican Congressman And Doctor, Pressured Mistress Patient To Get Abortion". Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  22. "Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressed mistress to get an abortion, report says". October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  23. 1 2 3 Harrison, James (November 16, 2012). "DesJarlais quiet as records contradict recent comments". Chattanooga Media Group. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  24. "2nd Scott DesJarlais girlfriend talks". Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  25. McAuliff, Michael (October 28, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais' Second Mistress: Another Woman Claims Affair With Tennessee Congressman". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  26. 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.
  27. 1 2 Chris Carroll; Kate Harrison (November 15, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais supported ex-wife's abortions, slept with patients, divorce transcript shows". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  28. Michael McAuliff (November 16, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais Approved Wife's Abortion, Slept With Coworkers, Patients, Court Records Say". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  29. "U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais fined for sex with 2 patients". Times Free Press. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  30. Chattanooga Times Free Press (November 30, 2012). "Scott DesJarlais says 'God has forgiven me'". Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  31. Sisk, Chas (October 16, 2012). "Rep. Scott DesJarlais faces ethics complaint over relationship". The Tennessean. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  32. Viebeck, Elise (October 15, 2012). "Ethics complaint filed against DesJarlais". The Hill. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  33. Representative Scott DesJarlais
  34. "Consent Order" (PDF). May 20, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  35. "U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais fined for sex with 2 patients". Times Free Press. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  36. "CREW Statement Following TN Medical Board's Resolution of Complaint Against Rep. Scott DesJarlais". CREW. May 23, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  37. Barton, Paul C. (November 27, 2012). "Watchdog group files ethics complaint against Rep. Scott DesJarlais". The Tennessean. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  38. 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.
  39. "Request for Investigation into Conduct of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)" (PDF). CREW. November 27, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  40. 1 2 3 Emily Cahn (January 27, 2014). "DesJarlais Primary Challenger Flush With Cash for 2014". Roll Call. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  41. Hamby, Peter. "Bad boys survive to win re-election". CNN. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  42. Isenstadt, Alex. "Good election year for bad boys of Congress". Politico. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  43. Sher, Andy (January 3, 2013). "Tracy kicks off campaign to take on DesJarlais". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  44. Trygstad, Kyle (July 10, 2013). "DesJarlais Challenger Posts Big Fundraising Haul #TN04". Roll Call. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  45. "Jim Tracy will not contest 38-vote loss to Scott DesJarlais". The Murfreesburo Post.
  46. Bland, Scott; Meyer, Theodoric (January 2, 2016). "Top 9 primaries to watch in 2016". Politico. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  47. "This once-embattled Congressman has raised nearly $140,000 so far in 2016". Chattanooga Times Free Press. April 13, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  48. Humphrey, Tom (April 8, 2016). "Only two of Tennessee's U.S. reps face serious re-election challengers". Knoxville News-Sentinel. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  49. Stockard, Sam (May 17, 2016). "DesJarlais and Starrett lock horns ahead of primary". Murfreesboro Post. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  50. DeSilver, Drew (October 20, 2015). "What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who's in it?". Pew Research Center. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  51. "Committees and Caucuses, U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  52. "Legislation Sponsored or Cosponsored by Scott DesJarlais". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  53. Reid, Jon (February 29, 2016). "House Freedom Caucus Member Endorses Trump". Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  54. Collins, Michael (November 1, 2012). "DesJarlais spouse: He's a good husband and father". Knoxville News Sentinel.
  55. "Scott's Story". Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  56. 1 2 Barton, Paul (July 11, 2014). "Rep. DesJarlais fighting cancer". USA Today. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  57. "Scott DesJarlais diagnosed with cancer". Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  58. "DesJarlais makes first appearance since cancer treatment". Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  59. Wilson, Brian. "Ill health restricts Scott DesJarlais campaign". Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  60. Broden, Scott (June 15, 2015). "Scott DesJarlais says he's cancer-free". Daily News Journal. USA Today. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Scott DesJarlais.
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
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