The conservative House Freedom Caucus has voted to support its co-founder, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, as he faces accusations of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse more than two decades ago.
Emerging from the weekly meeting late Tuesday night, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, said the group voted unanimously to support Jordan. Meadows could not say how many members were in the meeting but there were “enough for an official position” and that not one person spoke up with any doubts.
“If anything, I had to cut off the number of people who were offering words of encouragement and support – not the other way around,” he told reporters.
The group’s backing signals a solid bloc of support for Jordan from his most ardent followers in the Republican conference.
The members, some of whom had already issued statements defending Jordan’s character, emerged from their weekly meeting Tuesday night in broad support of the congressman.
“I’ve know Mr. Jordan now for 5 and a half years. He’s the paragon of honesty and integrity. He’s the guy, when there’s an injustice, he goes after it,” said Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. “He doesn’t wait for it to happen and hope it stumbles into it. … I think that says everything.”
Former wrestlers at Ohio State University have made accusations over the past week that Jordan knew about the sexual abuse but did nothing about it while he was an assistant wrestling coach.
Other former wrestlers and coaches have come out in support of Jordan and disputed accusations that he turned a blind eye.
Ohio State started an investigation back in April. Jordan, who has repeatedly denied having any direct knowledge of sexual abuse, has not sat down with investigators yet, but said Tuesday it was possible he might sit down with them this week.
“We are working on setting up a time,” he told CNN.
Freedom Caucus board members met earlier Tuesday in Jordan’s office for another weekly gathering. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, leaving that meeting, argued the accusations were “a malicious attack on (Jordan’s) character.”
Pressed further by CNN on whom he felt was behind the attack, Duncan pointed to “the parties involved.”
“You know the case as well as I do,” he said.
Meadows declined to weigh into motivation but raised questions about the fairness of the spotlight around Jordan.
“I think there’s frustration among some where you look at – Jim Jordan was not the school administrator. Jim Jordan was not the head coach. You have reports that it happened across 14 different sports across what is perhaps one of the largest athletics venues in the entire country and somehow it is the fault of a 22-year-old assistant wrestling coach from 30 years ago,” he said.
“Listen, there’s probably blame to go around if indeed things were ignored. But I can tell you there was one person who didn’t ignore it and that’s Jim Jordan,” he added.
Also Tuesday, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise issued a supportive statement of Jordan.
“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,” Scalise said in a statement to CNN. “I’m glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”
Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, who had yet to weigh in on the scandal, was asked whether Jordan has his full support Tuesday. “Sure, Jim’s one of the most ethical guys up here. Just waiting for all the information to come in. I think you’ll see, it will be good.”
Asked how he feels about the support from his colleagues, Jordan said it’s been “great.”
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.