Gov. Bill Haslam weighed in on the controversy that continues to swirl around Rep. Scott DesJarlais on Monday, indicating he has no plans of rebuking his fellow Republican or suggesting he step down from the Tennessee delegation.
According to a Tennessean report, Haslam told reporters in Nashville that he had not taken part in any “official” conversations regarding DesJarlais, who overcame scandal and was re-elected on Nov. 6-only to be greeted by more scandal.
DesJarlais, a pro-life freshman set to begin his second term, was revealed to have admitted under oath that, despite his previous denial, he did record a decade-old conversation in which he pressured a mistress to terminate a pregnancy. A released transcript from his divorce also found he supported two abortions for his ex-wife.
“I think the congressman’s decision is ‘Can I effectively represent the people who elected me?'” Haslam was quoted saying. “It’s not my call. It’s his decision.”
The governor is one of a handful of top Republican officials from across the state to have commented publicly on the matter and aligns with the majority who have opted to leave the ball in DesJarlais’ court after events from his past contradicted his campaign platform and went against statements made during his re-election bid.
“As the governor of Tennessee, I’m not sure that falls into my line of responsibility,” Haslam added. “In the end, it comes back to a decision he has to make.”
DesJarlais has indicated he has no plans of giving up the 4th District seat, saying through a spokesman he remained focused on his congressional duties.
The congressman is scheduled to be sworn in to his second term in January.