Ethics complaint filed against DesJarlais

A watchdog group has filed a complaint against embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) for having an affair with a medical patient 12 years ago. 

The move comes after DesJarlais, a doctor who opposes abortion rights, nabbed headlines for a taped phone conversation in which he pressured the woman to terminate a pregnancy.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced Monday that it filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health over DesJarlais's extramarital affair.


The group cited state law, which prohibits doctors from sexual contact with patients. 

"It is hard to imagine behavior much more craven than a married doctor exploiting his position to conduct a sexual relationship with a patient," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.

"It is mind-boggling that when confronted with the patient/mistress’s possible pregnancy, this ardent pro-lifer urged her to have an abortion," Sloan added. "How much hypocrisy can we stand?"

DesJarlais's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The congressman recently spoke of the affair, saying he exercised "poor judgment," but also said that the woman in question turned out not to be pregnant, making an abortion unnecessary.

DesJarlais's medical license does not expire until 2014 and his records show no history of patient complaints, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health told the paper that there is no statute of limitations on filing complaints, and that every complaint is investigated.

DesJarlais was elected in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave that swept the House. He is running for reelection against Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart.