In the midst of a scandal over pressuring his mistress to get an abortion in 2000, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) served as Speaker Pro Tem today, gaveling in a minutes-long pro forma session at the behest of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
In late September, before the scandal broke, DesJarlais had cited the pro forma duty as a reason he could not debate his Democratic opponent on Oct. 11, according to the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
DesJarlais eluded reporters on his way out of the chamber.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who was present to protest Congressional inaction on expiring tax rates, questioned why DesJarlais refused to recognize a parliamentary inquiry from McGovern if the Pro Tem duty was so important that DesJarlais would miss a debate,
Earlier this week, Huffington Post published parts of a transcript from a more-than-decade-old phone call in which DesJarlais, then a doctor, urged a pregnant mistress to get an abortion. The woman was a patient of the conservative anti-abortion doctor-turned-lawmaker.
According to the report, it was DesJarlais who recorded the call in September of 2000. He defeated then-Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) in 2010, and details of his messy 2001 divorce came to light during that campaign.
The Congressman’s campaign released a statement in response to the transcript, calling it election-year gutter politics. The statement did not deny the call took place or the content of the transcript.
Correction: 3:42 p.m.
An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect year for when Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) made a phone call in which he urged a pregnant mistress to get an abortion. The call was recorded in 2000.