Key Republicans in Ohio want to know what a former congressman knew about a sexual misconduct accusation against a former state lawmaker — and when he knew it.
A report Friday by the Washington Post details allegations against Wes Goodman, who resigned from the Ohio House this week. A young man, who was 18 at the time, said Goodman — then a candidate seeking support from evangelical activists — “unzipped his pants and fondled him in the middle of the night” in a hotel room two years ago after a Washington fundraiser.
The young man’s stepfather notified officials with the Council for National Policy, the conservative group that hosted the Goodman fundraiser. And, according to the Washington Post, email correspondence about the alleged incident reached the group’s executive director, Bob McEwen, a former congressman who sits on the Ohio GOP’s state central committee. (McEwen promised that “strong action is about to take place” in an email reported by the Post.)
Tony Perkins, the group’s president and a prominent evangelical leader, vowed not to sweep the matter under the rug and urged Goodman to drop his state bid, the Washington Post reported. “Going forward so soon, without some distance from your past behavior and a track record of recovery, carries great risk for you and for those who are supporting you,” Perkins wrote to Goodman in December 2015, adding that he was “obligated” to inform CNP members of the case.
But Goodman, 33, stayed in the race, emerged from a GOP primary, and then won the general election last fall. On Friday, several party insiders told BuzzFeed News that the revelations were stunning and not known before Goodman’s victory. And Matt Borges, who was chairman of the Ohio Republican Party at the time, said McEwen, as a member of the state party’s governing board, owed it to his fellow partisans to disclose such an issue if he was aware of it.
McEwen never did, Borges added.
“If he knew about the allegation and didn’t tell anyone — he certainly didn’t tell me — or do anything, then he’s just a phony and he needs to get lost,” Borges said.
McEwen did not respond to a voicemail or email Friday evening from BuzzFeed News, nor did he respond to to the Washington Post.
Borges said he also text-messaged McEwen to ask if he ever told anyone about the Goodman case, but that McEwen had not responded. Borges, who was unseated as party chairman earlier this year, said McEwen should resign if he kept the allegations quiet.
On Saturday, Jane Timken, Borges' successor at the Ohio GOP, concurred.
“I think every person has an obligation to say and do something about sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind when they see it," Timken said in a statement from the state party. "If Bob McEwen knew about this and did not say or do anything, he should resign.”
Goodman’s Tuesday resignation was attributed to "inappropriate behavior related to his state office." According to the Washington Post, his departure came several days after the newspaper’s initial inquiry about the 2015 accusation in Washington. Goodman, a former aide to US Rep. Jim Jordan, had emphasized conservative Christian values as a candidate and as a lawmaker.
McEwen, who served in Congress in the 1980s and early ‘90s, is also known as a culture warrior. In 2013, he urged Ohio Right to Life to not support candidates who supported same-sex marriage — a move widely interpreted as a shot at Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who had recently revealed his son was gay and proclaimed his support for marriage equality.
Henry Gomez is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Contact Henry J. Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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