Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is pulling out all the stops in a sweeping damage control effort as more former Ohio State wrestlers come forward to accuse him of being negligent of and later lying about rampant sexual abuse on the team while he was coach.
According to a Tuesday Politico report, Jordan has hired the conservative PR firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. The firm got to work immediately, launching StandWithJimJordan.com, a website plastered with statements of support for the embattled congressman.
“We reached out to Jim as soon as we saw the story,” Diana Banister, the Shirley & Banister employee spearheading the effort, told Politico. “We reached out to the congressman because he’s a friend. He has a situation on his hands, and we wanted to be of help, of counsel, whatever we could do for him.”
Jordan has consistently denied any knowledge of the abuse many former wrestlers say they suffered at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. Ohio State University has since opened an investigation into Strauss’ behavior.
Jordan’s colleagues in Congress are rallying to his side, choosing to disregard the stories of, as of Wednesday morning, eight former wrestlers on Jordan’s team.
“I 100 percent support Jim Jordan. He is a man of integrity and honor, and always fights for the underdog,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters Tuesday. “He was an assistant coach … one of many coaches. And to suggest this was somehow Jim Jordan’s fault? That’s just not accurate.”
“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,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also said Tuesday. “I think if he saw something, he would say something.”
“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 stood up for what’s right,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Tuesday in a statement. “I’m glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”
Many have less faith in Jordan’s claims of ignorance. On Monday, ethics experts requested an Office of Congressional Ethics probe into Jordan’s denials and past conduct, requesting that the investigation be handed over to the House Ethics Committee if any wrongdoing is found.