On two occasions, Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger directed staff to confront Wes Goodman about allegations that the GOP candidate, and later lawmaker, was cheating on his wife with men.
Both times, Goodman denied that he was gay and denied any impropriety.
In May 2016, Chris Donnelly, a former GOP congressional staffer, contacted the Ohio House Republican Caucus’ political director, Kenny Street, through a Facebook message. Donnelly worried Goodman’s campaign rhetoric about being a conservative Christian focused on “natural marriage” didn’t match his actions. Donnelly accused Goodman of cheating on his wife with men.
At Rosenberger’s direction, Street and Ohio House Republicans Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe talked with Goodman about Donnelly’s allegations.
At that point, Goodman had already won the GOP primary and was running unopposed in the November election to represent several counties in north central Ohio.
“Goodman denied being gay and flatly denied even knowing Mr. Donnelly,” Dittoe told The Enquirer. Goodman has not responded to a request for comment from The Enquirer.
Republicans were concerned about the hypocrisy. But House Republicans, including Rosenberger, say they did not know about allegations that Goodman fondled an 18-year-old male at a Council for National Policy event in October 2015, House GOP spokesman Brad Miller said.
Goodman was elected and joined the Ohio House. There, he championed an amendment to freeze Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion – a change that the governor later vetoed.
Then, in the summer of 2017, another person who does not work for the Ohio House accused Goodman of being gay and unfaithful his wife. Screenshots of three conversations were provided, detailing Goodman’s interactions. The person who provided the screenshots did not allege the cheating involved anyone who worked for the Ohio House.
“You are going to have to give me a tour of the statehouse after you are elected,” someone wrote to Goodman in a Facebook chat provided to the Ohio House and obtained by The Enquirer.
“Haha Will do! We have a nice jacuzzi here lol” Goodman reportedly replied.
“That sounds wonderful! We need to pamper ourselves after so many months of campaigning. lol.”
“I know! And can’t beat hot tub skinny dipping lol,” Goodman replied.
In another Facebook message, Goodman reportedly wrote that “I have a couple of bi frat bros so thankfully getting (oral sex) isn’t that hard lol.”
In the third message, Goodman invited the person he was chatting with to “wine, cigars, and hot tub lol.”
On Monday, a report from the Independent Journal Review detailed dozens of unwelcome Facebook and Snapchat interactions that Goodman allegedly had with men — some welcome and some unwelcome. Goodman reportedly shared pictures of his genitals on social media, according to the IJR article, which was based largely on anonymous sources.
Miller said Ohio House Republicans were unaware of those additional screenshots until after the IJR article was published.
When the three screenshots were brought to Rosenberger’s attention over the summer, the speaker directed his chief of staff, Dittoe, and chief legal counsel to meet with Goodman about the “rumors and innuendo,” Miller said.
Goodman again denied everything. He told the two House officials that the screenshots were fake.
“He was warned in no uncertain terms: While we aren’t here to pry into your personal life, if you contact House staff inappropriately in any way or misuse your office in any way, there will be consequences up to and including the speaker calling on you to resign,” Dittoe said.
Goodman told the GOP staffers that they had nothing to worry about.
‘Inappropriate behavior’ in the office
On Nov. 14, someone informed Dittoe that Goodman had sex with a man in Goodman’s House office earlier that year. Dittoe told Rosenberger, who then met with Goodman and asked the freshman lawmaker to resign.
The “inappropriate behavior” was consensual and with a man who did not work in the Ohio Legislature. The problem was Goodman used his taxpayer-provided office to conduct the alleged affair.
Goodman resigned in a letter at 11:59 p.m. that night.
In a statement provided last week, Goodman said “we all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life. That has been true for me, and I sincerely regret that my actions and choices have kept me from serving my constituents and our state in a way that reflects the best ideals of public service.”
Around the time Goodman resigned, House Republicans learned that the Washington Post was writing an article about allegations that Goodman had fondled an 18-year-old at a Council for National Policy event. That article published three days after Goodman left the Ohio House.
Goodman also worked for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, for several years. Jordan’s spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said Tuesday that Jordan’s office was unaware of any allegations against Goodman.
“During his employment with our office, we heard no allegations of wrongdoing and received no accusations of misconduct,” Willoughby said. “Congressman Jordan is deeply disappointed by this troubling news.”
A spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party said officials there were unaware of any allegations involving Goodman’s inappropriate behavior until Nov. 15.