How leadership handled the Wes Goodman scandal at the Statehouse

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Some of the reporting over the resignation of Wes Goodman has delved into the lurid personal struggles he has had outside of the walls of the legislature and his office at the Riffe Center.

This article is going to focus on his time just before he became a legislator; what leadership at the statehouse says it knew; and when they knew it.

According to Mike Dittoe, the GOP House Chief of Staff, Speaker Rosenberger became aware  of an allegation and rumors that Goodman was gay sometime in 2015 during Goodman’s campaign to become a state representative.

Goodman’s platform was that of a staunch conservative, and was not considered a friend by any stretch of the imagination to the LGBTQ community.

Rosenberger was provided alleged screen shots of some conversations Goodman supposedly had with another person. In two of the conversations, it is unclear as to the gender of the recipient; however in the third it is possible he was talking to a male.

Regardless of the gender of the other individual, the content of the conversations was relatively benign outside of a reference to bi-sexual oral sex, and Goodman makes no overt advances to the individual he is speaking with.

With that in mind, and the fact that all Rosenberger had to go on were rumors and innuendo, he asked Dittoe and Kenny Street the political director at the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee to speak with Goodman while he was still a candidate for office.

Dittoe says, he and Kenny did speak with Goodman in May of 2016 about the rumors and screenshots. Dittoe says Goodman denied the rumors and said the told them the information they were given was from someone he didn’t even know. Because he was not an elected official, they left things at that.

A year later, the rumor mill was in full force according to Dittoe. He was once again asked to have a conversation with Goodman, who was now a State Representative, about sexually-charged conversations and more screenshots. Once again, according to Dittoe, Goodman denied the allegations and claimed the screenshots were fabricated.

Dittoe then warned him, “We aren’t here to pry into your personal life. But if you contact House staff inappropriately in any way or misuse your office, there will be consequences up to and including the Speaker calling on you to resign.”

Brad Miller, a spokesman for Rosenberger says Goodman crossed the line when he had an inappropriate interaction in his office in the Riffe Center a few weeks ago; no longer was this a matter of Goodman’s personal life.

According to the statement released by Rosenberger after Goodman’s resignation, the disgraced lawmaker acknowledged and confirmed the allegations.

Miller says when a substantive allegation was brought forward regarding inappropriate behavior in Goodman’s office, the Speaker met with Goodman and called for his resignation all in the same day.

The key word there is ‘substantive’. Some credible piece of evidence, be it a witness or something else, led to the Speaker’s action; not rumors or innuendo.

Equality Ohio, an advocate for the LGBTQ community, says that how Goodman’s situation was handled appears to have been done the right way.

“Until there’s a credible allegation, I think that it’s totally appropriate for them to pursue the proper investigatory steps,” said Joseph Wegner, the chairman of the Equality Ohio Board. “Give the person due process that we would expect in our system of government.”

As was mentioned at the beginning of this article there are other details, and even allegations, about Goodman’s life outside of his work as a legislator.

As of right now, like the rest of us, it appears the leadership here at the Statehouse was unaware of the extent of his actions prior to his election as a state representative.

 

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