"A man of honesty, and of integrity."
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio has hired a crisis management firm amid allegations that he looked away from sexual abuse of wrestlers he coached at the Ohio State University.
The conservative public relations firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs circulated a statement by six former Ohio State wresting coaches Monday in which they defended Jordan and each other.
“What has been said about Jim Jordan is absolutely wrong,” the coaches said in the statement, according to The Washington Post. “We all worked on the wrestling coaching staff during Jim’s tenure at The Ohio State University. None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers.”
Jordan and the six former coaches have been accused of knowing about and ignoring
Meanwhile, many Republicans have closed rank in support of Jordan, with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin calling Jordan on Wednesday "a man of honesty, and of integrity."
Ohio State announced in April that an independent investigation conducted by Perkins Coie LLP is underway into the allegations against Strauss.
Perkins Coie has received confidential reports of sexual misconduct committed by Strauss from former varsity men student-athletes in 14 sports and from former patients of Student Health Services within the Office of Student Life.
Additionally, former Obama administration ethics czar Norm Eisen filed a request with the Office of Congressional Ethics for the House Ethics Committee to launch an inquiry.
"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," Eisen's letter read.
In an appearance on Fox News last week, Jordan dismissed the claims made by former OSU wrestlers -- seven of whom have now come forward -- that he knew about the alleged sexual abuse by Strauss and did nothing.
Jordan also took a page from President Donald Trump's playbook, fanning right-wing conspiracy theories by blaming the charges against him on the "deep state."
Jordan, who served as an assistant coach on the Ohio State wrestling team in the late 1980s and early 1990s before entering politics, disparaged some of the wrestlers who have accused him and said he could not explain why others were speaking out against him.
“I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any kind of abuse,” he said. “If I did I would have dealt with it. A good coach puts the interests of his student-athletes first.”
Former wrestler Mike DiSabato, who had allegedly been abused by Strauss, believes Jordan is "absolutely lying."
Coming out in Jordan's defense: Two former OSU wrestlers defended Jordan, with one
Thank you to the former wrestlers who came out to support me today.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 10, 2018
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California was among the prominent Republicans who vouched for Jordan.
"I don’t know happened 20 years ago at Ohio State, but the only person I know in this whole thing is Jim, and Jim to me has been an honest person — all the time,” McCarthy said Tuesday, according to Politico. “I think if he saw something, he would say something.”
Jim Jordan is a man of integrity, and we believe him and stand with him 100 percent. If he had seen or heard something he would have acted. We continue to support his work in Congress to fight for everyday Americans.— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) July 11, 2018
"I 100 percent support Jim Jordan. He is a man of integrity and honor, and always fights for the underdog," Republican House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina said to reporters on Tuesday, according to Politico. "He was an assistant coach... one of many coaches. And to suggest this was some how Jim Jordan’s fault? That’s just not accurate."
Texas Republican Joe Barton, a fellow Freedom Caucus member, accused the left of attacking Jordan, according to The Post.
“I think he’s just the victim of being important in Washington,” he said. “If you’re kind of a back-bench, low-profile junior member, you’re pretty much left alone. But the higher profile you take and the more influential and effective you are, the more likely somebody on the left is going to make these kind of attacks.”