Top House leaders are sticking by embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais amid the revelation last week that the pro-life Republican doctor had encouraged a patient he slept with to have an abortion more than a decade ago.
The two leaders are among DesJarlais’ largest donors, with Boehner’s Freedom Project PAC and Cantor’s Every Republican Is Crucial PAC each donating $10,000 to his campaign this cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The support is notable because the Republican Conference has operated under a fairly strict zero-tolerance policy for scandal.
When asked why Cantor maintains his support for DesJarlais, Cantor spokesman Doug Heye said, “He supports every Republican incumbent who is running for office.”
Leadership’s posture comes despite other Republicans distancing themselves from DesJarlais. Most notably, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney removed an endorsement from the Congressman from his website.
The Tennessee Republican Party is maintaining its support for the freshman legislator as well.
“A GOP leadership aide noted that leaders may be less inclined to blacklist DesJarlais because the recorded conversation did not happen while he was in office and because there does not appear to be any violation of Congressional ethics.”
DesJarlais got in hot water last week when the Huffington Post first reported on a partial transcript of a phone call he had 12 years ago with a woman with whom he had an affair.
Culled from divorce records, the transcript showed DesJarlais encouraging the woman to have an abortion. DesJarlais is a physician, and the woman was a patient of his.