Several months since the revelation broke that Rep. Scott DesJarlais engaged in inappropriate relationships with patients during his pre-congressional career as a doctor, the tea-party-backed, two-term Tennessee Republican will pay a fine and receive admonishment from the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.
According to official documents provided by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and first reported by the Tennessean, DesJarlais will be required within 60 days to pay a $500 fine for engaging in sexual affairs with two female patients he was treating at the time, which runs afoul of state law for medical practitioners and is punishable by penalties such as suspension or revocation of a physician’s medical license.
DesJarlais will also have to pay $1,000 to cover the costs incurred during the medical board’s investigation into allegations of his misconduct, first brought to its attention by CREW.
Earlier Thursday, in an exclusive interview with the Tennessean, DesJarlais said, “I take responsibility for past mistakes and am happy to get this resolved.”
House Republican leaders and colleagues, he continued, feel the same way: “They are happy to get this resolved.”
When reached for comment by CQ Roll Call, DesJarlais’ spokesman Robert Jameson referenced the Tennessean interview. “He accepts the ruling of the board,” Jameson added.
Though news broke on Thursday that DesJarlais would incur fines, the official documents are dated for Wednesday, May 22.
It brings to an end a saga that’s been ongoing since last fall, when sworn testimony from court documents during DesJarlais’ 2001 divorce proceedings showed that he had “sexual relationships with at least two patients, three co-workers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.”
Perhaps more damning politically for DesJarlais, an avowed anti-abortion lawmaker and member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, was information from that sworn testimony showing he had “supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage.”
During that time, his House GOP colleagues stayed largely silent on the allegations, and it’s not likely many of them will be speaking out publicly on his behalf in the wake of the Tennessee Medical Board’s verdict.
CREW, meanwhile, slammed the board’s decision not to penalize DesJarlais above and beyond what the group’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, belittled as “more expensive traffic tickets.”
“Accountability begins at home,” Sloan continued in a statement. “As we predicted when we filed our complaints, despite the fact that Rep. DesJarlais’s conduct is a clear-cut violation of Tennessee law, state authorities gave him a pass. Let’s hope the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is also considering a complaint against Rep. DesJarlais, takes a dimmer view of his outrageous misconduct.”