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Republican

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R)

Scott DesJarlais Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-6831

Address: 413 CHOB, DC 20515

State Office Contact Information

Phone: (931) 381-9920

Address: 711 North Garden Street, Columbia TN 38401-3223

Winchester TN

Phone: (931) 962-3180

Fax: (931) 962-3435

Address: 200 South Jefferson Street, Winchester TN 37398-1712

Cleveland TN

Phone: (423) 472-7500

Fax: (423) 472-7800

Address: 301 Keith Street, Cleveland TN 37311-5842

Murfreesboro TN

Phone: (615) 896-1986

Fax: (615) 896-8218

Address: 305 West Main Street, Murfreesboro TN 37130-3547

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Scott DesJarlais Committees
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Scott DesJarlais Biography
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  • Elected: 2010, 3rd term.
  • District: Tennessee 4
  • Born: Feb. 21, 1964, Des Moines, IA
  • Home: Jasper
  • Education:

    U. of SD, B.S. 1987, M.D. 1991.

  • Professional Career:

    Practicing physician, 1993-2010.

  • Ethnicity: White/Caucasian
  • Religion:

    Episcopalian

  • Family: Married (Amy); 3 children

Republican Scott DesJarlais was elected in 2010 following one of the year’s most negative campaigns. He then won reelection by overcoming explosive accusations about his personal life, and subsequently defeated an August 2014 primary challenger to defy virtually all earlier conventional wisdom. Read More

Republican Scott DesJarlais was elected in 2010 following one of the year’s most negative campaigns. He then won reelection by overcoming explosive accusations about his personal life, and subsequently defeated an August 2014 primary challenger to defy virtually all earlier conventional wisdom.

DesJarlais (DAY-zher-lay) grew up in Sturgis, S.D. His father was a barber, and his mother was a registered nurse at a veterans’ hospital. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and psychology from the University of South Dakota in 1987. After receiving his medical degree from the school in 1991, DesJarlais moved to Jasper, where he practiced medicine.

The 2010 House race was DesJarlais’ first bid for elected office, and he said it was motivated by his patients’ concerns about the foundering economy and their fears about losing their jobs. He challenged Rep. Lincoln Davis, who had been the most conservative Democrat in the Tennessee delegation and had earned the endorsements of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association, and National Right to Life. DesJarlais billed himself as a “doctor, not a politician.” Davis made headlines with accusations made by DesJarlais’ first wife, Susan, who claimed that he physically intimidated her during their 2000 divorce and threatened to commit suicide.

DesJarlais called the charges “completely false,” and the ad exposed Davis to accusations of mudslinging. Davis also pointed out his votes against the Democrats’ health care overhaul and their cap-and-trade bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions, both unpopular in the district. But even his limited cooperation with President Barack Obama in voting for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill cost him votes. DesJarlais won 57% to 39% for Davis, with minor candidates splitting the rest.

In the House, DesJarlais has been a devout fiscal conservative, and he tied with several others in the 112th Congress (2011-12) as the House’s most conservative member on social issues, according to National Journal’s annual rankings. In 2013, he again was tied for most-conservative on social as well as foreign policy issues and overall was the chamber's fourth most-conservative member. When he suggested cutting the Forest Service’s outreach programs for children, environmental groups protested that he was putting Smokey Bear in jeopardy. He joined fellow Tennessee freshman Republican Charles Fleischmann in opposing an Energy Department plan to consolidate management of Oak Ridge’s Y-12 weapons plant with the one at Texas’ Pantex facility. He drew attention for spending more on constituent mailings than almost every other House member in 2011, though he defended the mailings as essential to outreach.

But scandal overshadowed DesJarlais’ legislative work. The Huffington Post reported in October 2012 that, according to a transcript of a phone recording made sometime before his divorce, DesJarlais urged his pregnant mistress—who was one of his medical patients—to get an abortion. He issued a statement accusing opponents of “the same gutter politics” as his earlier race, but he later said in a letter to supporters that he encouraged the abortion because he was trying to get her to admit she wasn’t pregnant. Conservatives abandoned him in droves, and national Democrats raced in to assist challenger Eric Stewart, who had been seen as a long shot. Another former patient came forward to tell of a sexual relationship with DesJarlais, which he called “not a credible story.”

The conservative district’s voters gave DesJarlais the benefit of the doubt, as he beat Stewart 56%-44%, He won Murfreesboro-based Rutherford County—the district’s largest—53%-47%, and easily took almost all other counties. After the election, the state Democratic Party released court transcripts showing that DesJarlais and his ex-wife mutually agreed that she would have two abortions, and that he admitted having sex with at least two patients, three coworkers, and a drug representative. DesJarlais later acknowledged having used “very poor judgment” but dismissed suggestions that he resign or not run again. In 2013, the Tenneesee Board of Medical Examiners fined him $500 and reprimanded him for having sex with multiple patients.

By January 2013, he had his first 2014 primary challenger: state Sen. Jim Tracy, who began peeling off DesJarlais’ donors. Tracy told supporters, “I’m a conservative in word and deed. I’m 100 percent pro-life.” Tracy outraised DesJarlais and collected the backing of virtually everyone in the state's GOP establishment, and he campaigned on bringing "integrity" to the office.

DesJarlais, meanwhile, countered that his personal life was old news, noting that he had been married for 12 years to his second wife. "I know God’s forgiven me," he told one conservative talk-radio host. "I simply ask my fellow Christians and constituents to [do] the same for me." That message resonated with some voters; Vanderbilt political scientist John Geer told The Washington Post that "conservative evangelicals believe in forgiveness." Anti-abortion interest groups largely steered clear of the race, perhaps believing that their money could be better spent elsewhere.

Primary election totals showed DesJarlais with a 38-vote lead, and he declared victory. State officials said that depending on Tracy's response, the recount process could last into September. On Aug. 25, Tracy conceded, saying further challenges "would not be the right thing for the Republican Party and the conservative cause in Tennessee.” However, Tracy continued to fault the handling of the election. “There were votes by people who were not on the rolls and should have cast provisional ballots, but voted on machines so there was no way to determine whether those were legal votes,” he said.

DesJarlais easily beat Democrat Lenda Sherrell in November. During the race, he underwent treatment for early-stage cancer in his neck.

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Scott DesJarlais Election Results
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2012 General
Scott DesJarlais (R)
Votes: 128,568
Percent: 55.76%
Eric Stewart (D)
Votes: 102,022
Percent: 44.24%
2012 Primary
Scott DesJarlais (R)
Votes: 36,088
Percent: 76.76%
Shannon Kelley (R)
Votes: 10,927
Percent: 23.24%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (57%)
Scott DesJarlais Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 8 (L) : 91 (C) 11 (L) : 87 (C) 44 (L) : 55 (C)
Social - (L) : 87 (C) - (L) : 91 (C) - (L) : 83 (C)
Foreign - (L) : 95 (C) 30 (L) : 66 (C) 27 (L) : 70 (C)
Composite 5.8 (L) : 94.2 (C) 16.2 (L) : 83.8 (C) 27.2 (L) : 72.8 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC9066
LCV63
CFG7775
ITIC-67
NTU7478
20112012
COC94-
ACLU-0
ACU8892
ADA00
AFSCME14-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Find AG in contempt
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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