A nonpartisan, D.C.-based watchdog group has filed a second complaint against Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a new complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent government entity that reviews allegations of misconduct for members of the House of Representatives and their staff.
When appropriate, the office refers matters to the House Committee on Ethics for official review.
“Apparently, Rep. DesJarlais suffered a convenient memory block until a transcript from his divorce refreshed his recollection after he was recollected,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a prepared statement.
Robert Jameson, communications director for DesJarlais, dismissed the complaint.
“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,” Jameson said in an emailed statement.
The transcript cited in the new complaint comes from DesJarlais’ decade-old divorce and specifically pertains to a portion that did not square with an open letter written by the congressman after he became embroiled in scandal during his first bid for re-election.
In a Facebook post, DesJarlais said that a transcript of a phone conversation between him and an unnamed patient with whom he had engaged in a sexual relationship had been recorded against his knowledge.
During the call, DesJarlais was quoted encouraging the woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
“The media wrongly reported that I recorded the conversation myself,” DesJarlais wrote. “I was recorded unknowingly and without my consent.”
Contents of the conversation were published by The Huffington Post on Oct. 10, sending the pro-life, pro-family values congressman into a month of lying low amid scrutinizing media coverage and attacks from his political opponents. On the day before November’s election, DesJarlais found himself in a Hamilton County courtroom, as the Tennessee Democratic Party pushed to have the entirety of his divorce transcript released.
Following his election victory, the entire 679-page transcript was made public and found DesJarlais offering sworn testimony that he did, in fact, arrange to record the conversation with his ex-wife.
When asked by an attorney if he and his former wife recorded the phone conversation with the woman, DesJarlais answers, “Yes.”
For the first time last week, the congressman commented publicly on the contradiction.
In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel, DesJarlais said that he did not intend to mislead voters regarding his past and made his comments before he had reviewed the portions of the divorce transcript.
“One of the biggest mistakes I made was I commented to the press before I had the opportunity to go back and read a transcript that was 13, 14 years old,” he said. “It was never my intention to mislead anyone, and had I read this, I don’t think inaccuracies would have taken place.”
DesJarlais’ divorce transcript was recorded in 2001.
Last month, CREW filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health regarding DesJarlais’ acknowledgment that he had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple patients while working as a physician. The department’s board of medical examiners, which oversees the granting of medical licenses, considers a violation to have occurred when any sexual contact between a physician and one of their patients takes place, even in a consensual relationship.
The status of the first complaint is unknown.