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Congressional Watchdogs Seek Ethics Review Of Rep. Jim Jordan

Jacquelyn Martin
Associated Press

A watchdog group and a former special counsel to President Obama are seeking an ethics review of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) even as former colleagues back his statements that he didn't know about sexual abuse of wrestlers while coaching at The Ohio State University.

Some ex-wrestlers say they were groped by team doctor Richard Strauss and that Jordan knew about the alleged abuse when he was an assistant coach. Jordan, a founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus and potential contender for House speaker, worked at Ohio State from 1986-1994.

Jordan has denied knowledge of abuse by Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005.

The group Democracy 21 and former White House ethics lawyer Norman Eisen want to know whether the Ohio Republican made false statements about that. The request to the Office of Congressional Ethics says questions of dishonesty can bring discredit to the House in violation of House rules.

Male athletes from 14 sports, as well as outside the university, have alleged sexual misconduct by Strauss, including showering with students and inappropriately touching them during exams. Ohio State began investigating Strauss in April, and has since interviewed over 150 people.

On Monday, six former Ohio State wrestling coaches defended Jordan in a joint statement that said none of them were aware of abuse of wrestlers.

"The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up," said the statement from former head coach Russ Hellickson and former assistant coaches Dave Ruckman, Rex Holman, Ken Chertow, Myron Kharchilava and Kenny Ramsey Jr.

The law firm Porter Wright, which is leading the university's investigation, said it reached out to Jordan for an interview but their emails were sent to a non-existent email address. Jordan also appears to not have received a phone call from the firm. He is now working with investigators to set up a meeting, according to his spokesperson.

IHolman said he hasn't been interviewed by investigators about Strauss, and he wouldn't address whether he would. It wasn't immediately clear whether the other coaches would talk with investigators.