WASHINGTON -- An ethics watchdog asked Congress on Tuesday to investigate whether Tennessee Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais lied about an audio recording he made with his wife of a phone call during which he urged his mistress to get an abortion.
In 2000, when DesJarlais was trying to patch up his disintegrating marriage, he recorded a phone call with a woman he had sex with while she was his patient.
After The Huffington Post reported the transcript of that recording -- which was included in filings from DesJarlais' three-year divorce proceeding -- the congressman declared that it was made without his knowledge. However, the later release of his full trial transcript showed that DesJarlais was fully involved in the recording.
To Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, that constitutes a lie that should be probed by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Apparently, Rep. DesJarlais suffered a convenient memory block until a transcript from his divorce refreshed his recollection after he was reelected,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan in a statement Tuesday. “Taping a conversation with a mistress doesn’t seem like something you would easily forget, but maybe now he will argue his memory was clouded by the pot he was smoking at the time, or he confused that mistress with one of his many others.”
Sloan was referring to reports that DesJarlais got high with at least one of his multiple mistresses, at least two of whom were his patients.
“It is clear Rep. DesJarlais lied to ensure his telling of events aligns with his current anti-abortion stance," Sloan added. "Apparently, his views have ‘evolved’ to the point where he now believes abortions should be illegal for everyone except the women with whom he sleeps.”
Robert Jameson, a spokesman for DesJarlais, responded Tuesday in an email. “This is clearly nothing more than a shallow publicity stunt by a Far-Left organization owned by George Soros and used to further his liberal agenda.”
CREW maintains it is non-partisan. It often accuses Democrats of ethics violations.
The "family values," anti-abortion DesJarlais also admitted in the divorce proceedings that he and his then-wife mutually agreed to two abortions, one for health reasons and one because their relationship was fairing poorly.
The court's full transcript was released after DesJarlais won reelection in spite of the news about his relationship with a patient he pushed to get an abortion.
“Rep. DesJarlais’ constituents may have overlooked his reprehensible conduct and numerous lies, but hopefully, the House will not," Sloan said. "Whatever happened to Speaker Boehner’s much touted ‘zero tolerance’ for misconduct?”
CREW has also filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, which forbids sexual relationships between physicians and patients. Penalties run from reprimands to suspensions of licenses.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.