Watchdogs File Office of Congressional Ethics Complaint Against Rep. Jim Jordan

July 9, 2018 – In a complaint filed today with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer and former White House chief ethics lawyer Norman Eisen (2009-2011) called on the OCE to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the conduct of Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The complaint was filed based on the Code of Official Conduct of the U.S. House of Representatives, which states in clause 1 of House Rule XXIII that Members of the House shall conduct themselves “at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.”

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The complaint states:

News stories in the past week have reported that seven former members of the Ohio State University wrestling team have stated that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a former assistant coach of the team, knew that the team doctor was engaged in sexual abuse of team members while Jordan was the assistant coach of the team and that Jordan failed to take any action on that knowledge.

In response to these news reports, Rep. Jordan has denied that he had any knowledge at the time that team members were being sexually abused. Thus, Rep. Jordan’s denials are in sharp conflict with the public statements of seven members of the Ohio State wrestling team that Jordan had coached.

Rep. Jordan also has stated that if he had known that the sexual abuse of team members was occurring, he would have taken action to stop it. He has thereby recognized that such abuse would have been plainly improper and would have warranted his intervention to protect students under his supervision and care.

In these circumstances, if Rep. Jordan’s recent statements—that he had no knowledge that student wrestlers under his supervision were being sexually abused—are false, his present conduct in connection with this serious matter would fail to “reflect creditably on the House,” in violation of clause 1 of Rule XXIII of the House Rules.

According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:

Either seven former student wrestlers who were under the supervision of Rep. Jordan are all lying or Rep. Jordan is lying.  If Rep Jordan is lying, he failed to protect student wrestlers under his supervision as a coach from sexual abuses and is now attempting to conceal his improper failure to act. This is a very serious matter. It is essential for the Office of Congressional Ethics and ultimately the House Ethics Committee to get to the bottom of who is telling the truth here. If Rep. Jordan is lying to cover up his failure to protect student wrestlers from sexual abuse, the House must hold Rep. Jordan accountable for his lies.

According to Norm Eisen, former White House ethics chief lawyer:

The evidence that Rep. Jordan is lying continues to mount.  If this were a ‘he said, he said’ matter, that would be one thing.  But with seven witnesses already stepping forward and perhaps more in the wings, an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation is needed.  The House ethics rules prohibit bringing dishonor upon that body—and what could be more dishonorable than Rep. Jordan now allegedly covering up his failure to stop widespread sexual abuse of students.

The complaint states:

We request that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether Rep. Jordan is making false statements about his knowledge of whether members of the Ohio State wrestling team were being sexually abused by the team doctor during the time he was an assistant coach of the team.

If OCE determines there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Jordan is lying in now claiming that he had no knowledge that wrestling team members under his care and supervision were being sexually abused, and if OCE also determines there is substantial reason to believe that Jordan’s false public statements denying such knowledge constitute a violation of clause 1 of House Rule XXIII by failing to “reflect creditably on the House,” OCE should recommend that the House Ethics Committee further review this matter.

The House Ethics Committee should then investigate and determine whether Rep. Jordan’s alleged false public statements about this matter constitute a violation of clause 1 of House Rule XXIII.

The complaint describes the sharp conflict between Rep. Jordan’s denials of any knowledge of sexual abuse of student wrestlers during his time as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, and the public statements of the former members of the Ohio State wrestling team he coached that Jordan knew about it and did nothing to stop the abuses.

According to the complaint, “One member of the student wrestling team, Dunyasha Yetts, said that ‘he and his teammates talked to Jordan numerous times about Strauss.’” Dr. Richard Strauss was the wrestling team doctor.

The complaint states: “Another member of the wrestling team, David Range, said, ‘Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening — yes, most definitely,’ Range told The Washington Post. ‘It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence.’”

The complaint states, “Another member of the team, Shawn Dailey, told NBC News in another report that ‘Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss’ abuse of many team members came up.’”

The complaint states that, according to an NBC News report, “another former wrestler, Mark Coleman stated ‘that Jordan was aware of the abuse and had not taken action.’  According to this report, Coleman said he was Jordan’s roommate on several wrestling trips and ‘[t]here’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State.’”

The complaint states: “Another former member of the student wrestling team, unnamed in the NBC News report said, ‘I love Jimmy to death. It was a head-scratcher to me why he would say he didn’t know anything. Doc used to take showers with the team even though he didn’t do any workouts, and everybody used to snicker about how you go into his office for a sore shoulder and he tells you to take your pants down.’”

According to the complaint:

Rep. Jordan’s public statements have directly contradicted the statements made by the former wrestlers.  According to the NBC News report, Jordan told The Columbus Dispatch, “I had not heard about any type of abuse at all.” He also is quoted as saying that “no one reported any type of abuse” to him. According to a story in Politico, Jordan “said his accusers are lying.  Jordan said he would have not have hesitated to come forward to report sexual abuse.  ‘It’s not true,’ Jordan said.  ‘I never knew about any type of abuse.  If I did, I would have done something about it.’”

According to an interview with Fox News, Jordan said, “It’s false. I mean, I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any type of abuse.  If I had been, I would have dealt with it. Our coaching staff, we would have dealt with it, these were our student athletes. A good coach puts the interests of his student athletes first. We would have dealt with it if we would have known about anything that happened. If in fact there are victims, they deserve justice…”

The complaint states:

There is a direct and irreconcilable conflict between the public statements made by seven former Ohio State student wrestlers that Rep. Jordan knew wrestling team members were being sexually abused by the team doctor, and Rep. Jordan’s denial that he had any knowledge of the abuses. According to Rep. Jordan, the allegations made by the former wrestling team members are “not true.”

This is a very serious matter that directly reflects on the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution and on the credibility of its Members.

If the accounts by the former Ohio State wrestling team members are correct and Rep. Jordan is lying, then Rep. Jordan is engaging in extremely improper behavior by making false statements on the public record to conceal his past knowledge of the sexual abuse of student wrestlers under his supervision, and to conceal his failure to take any action to protect those students.  Such false statements to cover up Rep. Jordan’s past knowledge of, and inaction on, sexual abuses that he should have acted to prevent would violate clause 1 of House Rule XXIII.

The complaint requests that that “OCE undertake a preliminary investigation of Rep. Jordan’s public denials that he had any knowledge that Ohio State student wrestlers under his supervision were being sexually abused by the team doctor while he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State.”

The complaint concludes:

If OCE determines that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Jordan had knowledge that students under his supervision were being sexually abused and is currently and publicly lying about his knowledge of the matter, OCE should recommend that the House Ethics Committee further review this matter.  The House Ethics Committee should then investigate and determine whether Rep. Jordan is publicly lying about this matter in violation of clause 1 of Rule XXIII of House Rules.

If it is determined that Rep. Jordan is lying to cover up his failure to protect student wrestlers under his supervision from sexual abuses, the House must hold Rep. Jordan accountable for his lies.

Read the full complaint here.