Known as “one of the most conservative members of Congress,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio is currently among President Donald Trump’s most pugnacious allies.
In the recent House Intelligence Hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment, Jordan frequently deployed aggressive questioning and talking points as he challenged the narrative that the president’s actions warranted impeachment.
Prior to entering politics, Jordan was something of a local celebrity for having been a wrestling champion in school, but his subsequent career as a assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University has been marred by a sexual abuse scandal. Though victims of the abuse have accused Jordan of covering up the scandal, his political career has not suffered as a result of the association.
Jim Jordan’s early years
Jim Jordan was born and raised in Champaign County, Ohio, in 1964 to John and Shirley Jordan. He went to high school in the small town of St. Paris, Ohio, before attending the University of Wisconsin (UW) where he received a bachelor’s in Economics in 1986.
In high school and as an undergraduate, Jordan had remarkable success as a wrestler. He won the state championship four years in a row as a high schooler and was then a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at UW. His wrestling success earned him a mention in Sports Illustrated and continues to be one of his defining achievements outside the world of politics.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Jordan returned to his home state to complete a master’s degree in Education at Ohio State University in 1991. He continued his education years later by completing a law degree at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, though Jordan stated in a 2018 NPR interview that he never took the bar exam.
Jordan married his high school sweetheart, Polly, who he has been with since he was 14 and she was 13. They have four children together.
Sexual abuse at Ohio State University
Starting in 1987, when Jordan began his master’s program at OSU, the future congressman was an assistant wrestling coach. He stepped down in 1995 to pursue a career in politics.
Years later, Jordan was implicated in a sexual abuse scandal that occurred while he was a coach, a scandal that rocked the university and the entire sports community. From 1979 to 1998, Dr. Richard Strauss was a team doctor for various teams at OSU. Years after he retired, multiple former students and employees came forward to say that Strauss had sexually abused them.
In total, 177 male students brought accusations against Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, and claimed that school officials failed to protect them or do anything about the abuse. It is alleged that Strauss’ acts were widely known to the coaches and school officials.
Multiple victims of Strauss’ have claimed that Jordan knew about the abuse and dismissed their concerns. One was a former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, who said that Strauss attempted to pull down his pants during an examination on his thumb. Other accusations have been made by a referee who said that Strauss masturbated in front of him.
That referee, identified as John Doe 42 in legal proceedings, has claimed that both Jordan and the head wrestling coach, Russ Hellickson, knew about Strauss’s actions and dismissed his concerns, saying “Yeah, yeah, we know.”
Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing anything about Strauss’ abusive actions while he was a coach and no legal action has been taken against him.
Conservative congressman Jim Jordan
Jordan began his political career in the Ohio State House of Representatives in 1995, where he stayed until he entered the State Senate in 2001.
During his time as a state congressman, Jordan established a reputation as a fiscal conservative who wanted to reduce taxes and as a social conservative who opposed abortion and gay marriage. He received the Pro-Life Legislator of the Year award from the United Conservatives of Ohio and the Defender of Life award from Ohio Right to Life for his work.
When he opted to run for the US House of Representatives, his website stated of his time as a state congressman that “he took on the powerful special interests and the leaders from both political parties who wanted to put Ohio on an unsustainable path of higher taxes and spending.” The site also touted his “conservative, pro-family voting record.”
In 2015, Jordan helped establish the “Freedom Caucus,” a group of some of the most conservative and libertarian members of the House. By consolidating conservatives to oppose any concessions to the Democrats, Jordan ensured his relevance in the chamber. So much so that in 2016, Politico called him “the most powerful Republican in the House after [Speaker] Paul Ryan” (who has since left office).
Ally of President Trump
The election of President Trump has helped raise Jordan’s profile even higher. Jordan has voted in line with Trump’s agenda 88.6% of the time and 93.2% of the time since Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
Jordan became one of Trump’s most visible defenders during the president’s impeachment hearings, at one point even claiming that he had never heard Trump lie. He also took the stance that Trump was falsely accused of the crimes against him and that both the Robert Mueller investigation and the impeachment hearings were a waste of time.
Jordan also attacked the credibility of Representative Adam Schiff, the Democrat who led the House hearings and presented the case against Trump in the Senate trial.
For his efforts, Trump has frequently thanked Jordan, even praising the congressman on his physique after Trump’s acquittal. “This guy was a champion, top, top wrestler,” Trump said of Jordan in a February press conference following the impeachment trial.
A day after Trump’s trial ended, Jordan was nominated as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, a role that could put him in direct conflict with Democratic efforts to provide oversight on the Trump administration.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at [email protected]