In November 2017, a rising star in Republican politics, Wesley Goodman, was forced to resign from the Ohio State House seat he’d won the year before. A staunch family values Republican, the married Goodman had apparently had sex with a man in his State House office. When confronted about the incident by Ohio State House Speaker Clifford Roenberger, Goodman resigned. What quickly emerged was that Goodman lived a secret life as a gay man. But he also had a history of harassing behavior and at least one documented instance of sexual assault which remained secret even after it came to the attention of his de facto boss, Tony Perkins, President of the Council for National Policy.
Goodman was also a protege of and former senior staffer for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Goodman’s story is not new. Here’s a story in The New York Times about Goodman’s resignation last November. Here’s a much more detailed story from The Washington Post. The Post story got a lot of attention at the time and tells a very disturbing story.
At a conference of GOP mega donors at the Ritz-Carlton near Washington in 2015, Goodman coaxed an 18 year old college student to spend the night in his hotel room. The man woke up in the middle of the night to find Goodman’s hands inside his pants.
From the Post story …
The young man involved in the 2015 hotel room episode said Goodman first approached him outside a Ritz-Carlton ballroom while urging young people to come to a party on Capitol Hill.
“One of the young guys didn’t want to go, and Wes really made fun of him and told him he ‘had a vagina’ and made sarcastic remarks about him being like a woman,” the young man wrote in a statement sent to Perkins on Oct. 25.
When the group eventually returned to the Ritz-Carlton, “Wes pushed me to come to his room,” and offered to let him share his bed, he wrote.
In his written statement, the young man said he awoke in the middle of the night to find Goodman’s hand “pulling down my zipper.” His pants had been unbuttoned and his zipper was down. He darted from the room at about 4 a.m. “I was shaken, dazed, confused and very upset,” he wrote.
At the time Goodman had been working for one of the political groups controlled by Perkins, the Conservative Action Project. Goodman was also running for office in Ohio. (Perkins is better known as the head of the Family Research Council.) After the incident, the boy’s stepfather contacted Perkins and demanded a response: “If we endorse these types of individuals, then it would seem our whole weekend together was nothing more than a charade.”
Perkins urged Goodman to drop out of the race, advice Goodman did not heed. But Perkins does not appear to have taken further action aside from discussing the matter with the board of the Council for National Policy. The story remained secret until November 2017.
Documents and emails from the CNP reviewed by the Post referred to “similar incidents” but just what those were is unclear.
Before going to work for Perkins, Goodman had been a staffer for Jordan. He appears to have worked first on Jordan’s congressional office staff. He then went to work as a staffer for the Republican Study Committee when Jordan was the chairman between 2011 and 2013. The 2015 incident happened after Goodman had left Jordan’s office.
A number of accounts that emerged in reporting from November 2017 detailed furtive but clearly consensual sexual encounters and sexting relationships Goodman carried on with men in Washington, DC. But follow-on reporting out of Ohio painted a different picture. Goodman had a reputation for propositioning and harassing young men he met in conservative circles believing they couldn’t complain because he was a key player who could advance or hurt a person’s careers. As this article at Cleveland.com put it at the time, Goodman “sent sexually suggestive messages to young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain, according to three people who knew him when he worked in Washington.”
The same article reports that another Ohio-based conservative operative said that “Goodman engaged in predatory behavior toward younger men after leaving Jordan’s office, sending inappropriate material and propositioning them via text message and Facebook messenger. The conservative operative said he’d target college kids who wanted to have him as a mentor and were scared to report his sexual advances because they didn’t want to damage their own careers.”
The same operative said that Goodman was someone who could help young conservatives get jobs. “People never really wanted to come forward against someone in power.” That specific account refers to the time after Goodman left Jordan’s staff. But few men with histories of harassment stop and start their behavior as they move from job to job.
There’s no evidence that Jordan knew about Goodman’s harassing behavior during the time he was on his staff or afterwards, though he must have known by November of last year when the articles I’m referencing were published. It seems worth asking whether anyone reported Goodman’s behavior during his tenure with Jordan and at the RSC during Jordan’s chairmanship. If not, was there any retrospective review when Goodman’s history of harassing behavior emerged? No contemporary reporting suggests there was.
When contacted for comment, Rep. Jordan’s office directed me to the statement his office released at the time of Goodman’s resignation (November 2017) and noted that this remains their response: “Representative Goodman acted inappropriately and consequently resigned. During his employment with our office, we heard no allegations of wrongdoing and received no accusations of misconduct. Congressman Jordan is deeply disappointed by this troubling news, and believes Mr. Goodman’s resignation was the best course of action for the Ohio House of Representatives, Mr. Goodman’s constituents, and his family.”