Wednesday, April 23, 2014 · 10:37 a.m.

Democrats call for Rep. Scott DesJarlais divorce records to be unsealed

Chip Forrester calls for resignation

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Rep. Scott DesJarlais. (Photo: Contributed)

The Tennessee Democratic Party wants documents from Rep. Scott DesJarlais' 12-year-old divorce file unsealed.  

On Wednesday, the party's chief legal counsel, Gerard Stranch, filed a motion to intervene, stating that voters had the right to "evaluate the full court record" relating to recent allegations that the congressman slept with one of his former patients and encouraged her to have an abortion. 

The move comes two weeks after The Huffington Post published their initial report based on a phone transcript between DesJarlais and an unnamed woman.

Since coming to light, the congressman's political opponents have sought to use the new information from the congressman's past against him, while Tennessee Republicans have stood behind DesJarlais in support. 

DesJarlais has not denied any portions of the transcript—instead offering the explanation that he had resorted to using "strong rhetoric" in order to persuade her to admit to him she was not actually pregnant.

The motion, filed in Marion Country Chancery Court, requested an expedited hearing on the records so that voters could know "the full story" before the Nov. 6 election.

It did not suggest any additional, yet-to-be-reported details regarding DesJarlais' personal history and also asked that any "purely private" documents, such as those related to the congressman's children, not be made public. 

"The TNDP seeks to unseal information that speaks directly to the character, professional judgment and claimed beliefs of a public official, precisely the sort of information that the public has the right to know," the motion reads. "The citizens of the 4th Congressional District are currently deciding whether Congressman/Dr. DesJarlais should continue to represent them in Washington and are entitled to know whether he willingly violated his medical ethics and the scope of any violation."

The move is the latest in a series of questions and attacks raised by state Democrats in the two weeks since the facts about DesJarlais were revealed. On Tuesday, TNDP Chairman Chip Forrester distributed a letter to Republican lawmakers across the state, calling on them to denounce the congressman and suggesting DesJarlais resign his post.

"Trust and honor cannot be restored to the 4th Congressional District if your party leaders refuse to impose consequences for Rep. DesJarlais' unethical misconduct and violations of state law," Forrester said. "For the good of Tennessee, and for the good of our country, Rep. Scott DesJarlais should resign from the U.S. Congress."

DesJarlais, who faces state Sen. Eric Stewart on Nov. 6, has dismissed criticisms from his political opponents as being old information that has nothing to do with his record as a representative. On Wednesday, the DesJarlais campaign said in a statement that the remarks from the Democratic Party were a "recycled smear campaign," reminiscent of attacks used against him during the 2010 election against former 4th District Rep. Lincoln Davis.    

"Tennessee voters know this recycled smear campaign by Eric Stewart is nothing more than a desperate attempt to hide his support for President Obama, Obamacare and the liberal polices that have cost jobs here in Tennessee," the statement said. "While the Democrats go digging through the Dumpster, Rep. DesJarlais is going to continue to fight for lower taxes, more jobs and the repeal of Obamacare."

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