Representative Elise Stefanik might have thought she was offering a stoic show of support while nominating Jim Jordan for House speaker on Wednesday, but instead she was met with a cacophony of boos from her colleagues when an unexpected turn in her speech nodded to Jordan’s alleged role in a collegiate sex abuse scandal.
“Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long,” Stefanik said on the House floor. “Whether on the wrestling mat or in the committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough, and principled.”
It was an odd detail to highlight amid what is arguably the highlight of Jordan’s already explosive political career.
Jordan, who served as an assistant coach to Ohio State University’s wrestling team between 1986 and 1994, has faced severe blowback for allegedly participating in a coverup of the rampant sex abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss.
Strauss committed 1,429 sexual assaults and 47 rapes against at least 177 male student-athletes during his tenure with the team, according to a 2019 university report.
After Representative Steve Scalise lost the GOP nomination last week, former OSU athletes spoke out en masse against the possibility of a Jordan speakership, arguing that the ultraconservative politician failed to protect them from the serial predator and “doesn’t deserve to be House speaker.”
“Do you really want a guy in that job who chose not to stand up for his guys?” former OSU wrestler Mike Schyck told NBC. “Is that the kind of character trait you want for a House speaker?”
A Jordan spokesperson, Russell Dye, denied that the Trump-endorsed congressman knew of the abuse during his time at OSU. “Chairman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it,” Dye said in an email to NBC.