Speaker Ryan Backs Jim Jordan Amid Ohio State Allegations

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan threw his full support behind House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan Wednesday morning, calling his colleague a “man of honesty and integrity.”

Jordan, a former Division-1 wrestler, was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994. During and before his time at the university, a team doctor, Richard Strauss, allegedly had questionable interactions with teammates and students. Seven former Ohio State University wrestlers have come out against Jordan in recent weeks for reportedly failing to intervene with Strauss, who they claim was molesting them and students.

“I talked to Jim over the weekend. First of all, his nephew, who was a wrestler over at U-W-Madison, died tragically in a car accident. So I called to check in on Jim this weekend and also talk about the Ohio State matter,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday morning.

“Jim Jordan is a friend of mine. We haven’t always agreed with each other over the years, but I’ve always known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty and a man of integrity. I also want to make sure that Ohio state conducts the review of this doctor and what he did. That is important so that campuses are safe,” Ryan told reporters. “I’m glad Jim is supporting that review.”

The allegations against Jordan have already sparked a request for a review within the Office of Congressional Ethics. The request comes from a former President Barack Obama ethics czar and the president of a Democratically aligned watchdog group.

Ryan pushed back against the request for a review, telling reporters that the ethics committee is supposed to deal with members actions while they are in Congress.

“The ethics committee here investigates what members do while they are here, not things that happened a couple of decades ago before they came to Congress,” Ryan told reporters.

The speaker isn’t the only one in Republican leadership, or the wider conference, to throw his weight behind Jordan.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise came out in support of Jordan Tuesday. The two Republican leaders comments mirrored Ryan’s statement Wednesday.

“Jim and I came into Congress together 12 years ago and I have always found him to be a good and honest man. I believe Jim when he says if faced with charges of abuse, he absolutely would have acted,” McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday.

“I have always known Jim Jordan to be honest, and I’m confident he would stand up for his athletes, just like he’s always stoop up for what’s right,” Scalise said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”

Jordan’s conservative coalition–the House Freedom Caucus–is defending him as a group.

“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,” the caucus said in a statement on Twitter.

The Ohio representative is receiving waves of support outside the halls of Congress. Fifteen former Ohio State wrestlers issued statements on Tuesday denying allegations against Jordan and six former university coaches are also defending Jordan. (RELATED: Freedom Caucus Is Standing By Jim Jordan)

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