The Prince George’s County Republican Party is sticking with its decision to have embattled Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan serve as keynote speaker at a high-profile event next week, despite criticism from Democrats.
“The Republican Central Committee for Prince George’s County is excited to have Congressman Jim Jordan support our 64th Annual Fundraiser next Tuesday, July 17 and we look forward to hearing from him about the work Congress is doing to improve the lives of all Americans,” the party said in a statement.
The embrace of Jordan follows a challenge from the Maryland Democratic Party, which on Thursday called on the state GOP and Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) to “disinvite” the lawmaker to the dinner.
A former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Jordan has been accused by two former members of the squad of knowing about — but failing to act upon — inappropriate acts by the team’s doctor. Two former OSU wrestlers have said they told Jordan about incidents of unwanted touching by team doctor Richard Strauss, and five others have said he had to have known about the allegations. Jordan denies knowing anything about Strauss’ alleged actions, and House GOP leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) have offered statements of support. Strauss died in 2005.
In its statement, the Prince George’s Republican Party said: “Congressman Jordan’s public record of nearly a dozen years in Congress has demonstrated that he is a man of solid character and this is supported by statements from dozens of his Congressional colleagues, 15 former wrestlers, and former coaches. The serious allegations against Congressman Jordan are unconfirmed and are rightfully being investigated by the appropriate authorities in Ohio.”
Democrats maintain it is inappropriate for Jordan to appear.
“It’s clear from the mounting accusations that Jim Jordan was either aware or should have been aware of the actions that are said to have occurred on his watch,” said Fabion Seaton, Maryland Democratic Party spokesman.
“He failed these student-athletes. It shows a lack of courage and a lack of moral character to stand by someone in light of these accusations.”
The Prince George’s GOP countered that Democrats are trying to “distract voters with unconfirmed allegations in Ohio, [when] they should get their own house in order, by addressing the confirmed case of sexual harassment committed by their current Democratic nominee to the Prince George’s County Council, and Senior Advisor to County Executive Rushern Baker, Calvin Hawkins.”
Hawkins has been candid about his prior legal trouble, casting his life as one of redemption.
When first asked about Jordan’s role as keynote speaker and the criticism from Democrats on Thursday afternoon, Brandon Cooper, chairman of the Prince George’s GOP, told Maryland Matters, “[this is the] first I’m hearing of it.”
The party released a statement of support for Jordan’s appearance approximately three hours later.
A leader among hardline conservatives in the House, Jordan is a sought-after speaker.
According to the party’s website, tickets to Lincoln Day event are $100 for a “regular dinner ticket,” $150 for a “VIP ticket,” $2,500 for a “gold sponsor” and $5,000 for “platinum sponsors.”
The event is being held at a hotel in Bowie.
The Republican Party of Maryland did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the Hogan campaign.