Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is seeking re-election in 2014, in spite of a turbulent year punctuated by revelations he urged a mistress and his ex-wife to have abortions. The congressman publicly opposes legal access to abortion.
"Tennesseans know they can count on me to never compromise on independent, conservative principles and that I will always fight for smaller government, less spending and more jobs," DesJarlais said in a Wednesday press release. He noted he and his current wife were "incredibly grateful for the strong support we have received from friends all across the Fourth District."
DesJarlais, a general practice physician before winning his House seat in 2010, will hold a campaign kick-off event Aug. 7 in Winchester, Tenn.
"I feel that one year from the primary is an appropriate time to start focusing on the 2014 election," he said in the press release.
The congressman, however, may not face an easy re-election. Just before his successful November 2012 re-election, news reports disclosed that DesJarlais had an affair with one of his patients and subsequently told the woman to seek an abortion.
"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais told the woman in a recorded phone conversation, according to a transcript published in October 2012 by The Associated Press. "If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it."
The woman in the recorded conversation wasn't actually pregnant, DesJarlais said in his defense during a local radio interview.
"I don't mind telling people that there was no pregnancy, and no abortion," he said, The Commercial Appeal reported. "But I also don't mind telling people that this was a protracted two-year divorce back in 1999 and 2000. There was some difficult times, for sure."
Nearly a week after DesJarlais was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote in 2012, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported he also supported his ex-wife's decision to seek two abortions before they were married in 1995, citing his own divorce testimony.
"[She] was on an experimental drug called Lupron and was not supposed to have gotten pregnant. There were potential risks. It was a therapeutic [abortion]," he reportedly testified about the first abortion. As for the second abortion, "[it] was after she had gotten back from Desert Storm and things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision."
The Times Free Press reported the mistress with a pregnancy scare was 24 years old at the time, citing the divorce documents, which also revealed that DesJarlais admitted to another affair with a patient. There's no indication he impregnated the second woman.
The congressman was fined $500 by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in May for the two affairs with patients.
DesJarlais' campaign website reiterates his political opposition to abortion, with an entry saying "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life." In June the congressman voted in favor of a House bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks.
A DesJarlais staffer told U.S. News the congressman is looking forward and focusing on public policy issues. He's widely expected to face a difficult go in the Republican primary. At least one GOP rival, state Sen. Jim Tracy, has jumped into the race.
Watch one of DesJarlais' 2012 ads: