Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an ultraconservative whose re-election campaign was dogged by accusations that he ignored sexual abuse while he was an assistant coach at Ohio State University, on Wednesday announced his bid for House minority leader.
Hours after his midterm election victory for a seventh term representing Ohio’s 4th Congressional District ― and after Democrats won control of the House ― Jordan told The Hill that he’ll challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the leadership spot.
“I plan to run for minority leader,” said Jordan. “In 2016, the American people elected Republicans to come here and change this town. I think the president is doing just that, but I don’t think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress, folks in the House of Representatives. ... Have we replaced Obamacare yet? Have we secured the border yet? Have we reformed welfare yet? No.”
Jordan was publicly accused in July of inaction at Ohio State while the team doctor sexually abused dozens of athletes in the late 1980s and early ’90s. At least 145 people have accused Dr. Richard Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, of sexual assault.
Jordan has repeatedly denied he knew about Strauss’s actions, but a former OSU athlete, Dunyasha Yetts, told NBC News in July that he personally told Jordan that Strauss attempted to pull down his shorts during what was supposed to be an examination of his thumb.
Jordan was on the defensive right up until Election Day. In August, it was reported that an ex-coach asked Jordan’s accusers to walk back their accusations just a day after they went public. Russ Hellickson reportedly sent messages to at least two former wrestlers, including Yetts, offering to rewrite their stories.
“I’m sorry you got caught up in the media train,” Hellickson wrote to Yetts in a text obtained by NBC News. “If you think the story got told wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”
President Donald Trump defended Jordan.
“Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington,” said Trump, who has been accused by at least 20 women of sexual misconduct. “I believe him 100 percent. No question in my mind.”