WASHINGTON -- A state judge handed another setback Monday to Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.), ordering the election eve release of divorce records that could shed light on the lawmaker-doctor's old extramarital affairs, the allegations that he wrote prescriptions for his patient-girlfriends, and his now-infamous attempt to persuade one mistress to have an abortion.
The Tennessee Democratic Party sought the release of the records after The Huffington Post revealed a transcript of the phone call made in 2000 in which DesJarlais pressured a patient-sex partner to get an abortion. He later said he had not believed she was actually pregnant and had only wanted to unmask her lie.
Then, another patient came forward with lurid details of her flings with DesJarlais. Gerard Stranch, a lawyer for Democrats, told Judge Jacqueline Bolton that they wanted any documents relating to allegations that the patient made about drug use with the doctor and prescriptions she received from him.
"If they relate to the four women that he's acknowledged having extramarital affairs with, they should be unsealed," said Branch in a video posted by the Tennessean. "If they relate to whether Dr. DesJarlais traded pills for sex, we believe they should be unsealed. If they relate to whether there was any illegal drug use by Dr. DesJarlais, they should be unsealed. If they relate to whether any other women were impregnated by Dr DesJarlais while he was still married, and whether they were pressured to have an abortion, they should be unsealed."
The documents -- part of the 700-page record of DesJarlais' divorce, which was finalized in 2001 -- could be released by Monday afternoon or evening.
DesJarlais, who attended the hearing, was videotaped by Nooga.com getting testy with reporters afterward, saying it was an election year and the details of his unsavory conduct were just "allegations."
The anti-abortion, family-values Republican had been headed to an easy victory over Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart. He may still win, but a number of prognosticators have moved the race for Tennessee's 4th District into the competitive, leaning-Republican category.
In an odd twist at the hearing, it appeared that some of the documents in DesJarlais' divorce had actually not been sealed, but it was unclear why they had not been released sooner. It also emerged that some key documents were missing. The reason for that was also unclear; the Democrats' lawyers called for the court to investigate.
WATCH DesJarlais leave.
UPDATE: 6:05 p.m. -- Eric Stewarts' campaign manager, Kevin Teets, reacted to the ruling, saying in a statement that the case was about a dirty politician, not dirty politics:
Congressman DesJarlais is under investigation by the Tennessee Medical Board for sleeping with his own patients, he's been asked to resign by the Tennessee Conservative Union, and, more importantly he continues to hide from the media and from voters. If he's so proud of his record in Congress, then why has he refused to defend it in front of voters? He's a do-nothing Congressman and a do-nothing candidate with a history of intimidation, abusing power, and blaming others. His campaign continuously throws around labels and blames other people, but only one person slept with his patients, told a patient she needed to go to Atlanta and have an abortion, and had four affairs while still married. That person is Congressman DesJarlais. This isn't about dirty politics -- it's about a dirty politician. Voters deserve better.
UPDATE: 7:30 p.m. -- Lawyers for each side said the transcript would not be released until Tuesday.