Former Obama administration ethics czar Norm Eisen has filed a request with the Office of Congressional Ethics for the House Ethics Committee to launch an inquiry into Rep. Jim Jordan.
Eisen, who is chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, sent a letter to OCE on Monday asking it to investigate if Jordan is lying about whether he knew about sexual abuse while he was an assistant wrestling coach at The Ohio State University.
“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,” Eisen told The Washington Post.
The letter sent Monday said Jordan could be in violation of a clause in the House Rules if he were lying, since it would fail to “reflect creditably on the House.” If the office determined that to be the case, “OCE should recommend that the House Ethics Committee further review this matter.”
The letter does not mean Jordan is currently under inquiry, only that one has been requested. OCE would make a recommendation to the Ethics Committee if it determines there is cause for an investigation.
The Ethics Committee can only investigate allegations occurring since the third previous Congress unless they directly relate to an alleged violation in a more recent Congress.
The calls for an inquiry come as more former wrestlers at Ohio State University said Jordan knew about sexual abuse by the team physician while he was an assistant coach.
On Saturday a seventh wrestler, David Range, told The Washington Post Jordan knew about the abuse from Dr. Richard Strauss.
“It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence,” Range told the Post.
Range said it was common knowledge at the time even though he did not directly discuss it with Jordan.
“We talked about it all the time in the locker room,” Range said. “Everybody joked about it and talked about it all the time.”
Jordan has denied knowing about the abuse and questioned the motivation of those coming forward.
“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse, or reported abuse to us,” he said in an interview Friday with Fox News. “It’s just not accurate. There never was abuse reported to me, and if there was, I would’ve dealt with it.”
Jordan also said he suspected the timing of the allegations was linked to his contentious questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the speaker’s race,” he said.
Watch: Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein’s Fiery Exchange
Jordan had previously been floated by conservative circles as a long-shot potential successor to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Jordan was a founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, and the caucus’ chairman Rep. Mark Meadows called on members to support the Ohio congressman.
Conservative Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz also defended Jordan, saying the allegations were a “deliberate attempt to knock the best oversight member of Congress off his game” ahead of FBI agent Peter Strzok’s testimony before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees this week.
How is Jim Jordan supposed to prove that he didn’t know something 28 years ago? Could any of us? This is a deliberate attempt to knock the best oversight member of Congress off his game the week Strzok is scheduled to testify.
Amid the allegations, three former wrestlers at Ohio State defended Jordan.
Dan George told the Asbury Park Press there were more people who supported Jordan than were accusing him.
“I’m devastated by what I’ve heard. My heart goes out to anyone who was abused in any way,” he said. “But Jim Jordan is a tremendous human being who has always lived his life beyond reproach. If he had any knowledge of any misconduct, he would deal with it. There’s no question in my mind.”
Former three-year captain Jude Skove finished his career at Ohio State before Jordan became an assistant coach but told the Asbury Park Press he trained with Jordan at a tournament when Jordan was a student.
“To me the whole thing is a head-scratcher. Doc Strauss [team physician Richard Strauss] was definitely a weird character. No doubt about that,” he said. “But he never overstepped boundaries in my experience. So I’m not sure what Jim Jordan supposedly hushed up after I left.”
Skove’s brother Andrew Skove wrestled during the time Jordan was a coach and said he stands “100 percent” in support of Jordan.
“I’m not aware of any incidents that could have potentially been covered up,” he told the newspaper.
Similarly, conservative firm Shirley & Bannister Public Affairs released a list of former Ohio State coaches defending Jordan.
“What has been said about Jim Jordan is absolutely wrong,” the statement said. “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. The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up.”