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Rep. Goodman resigns following "inappropriate behavior"

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Wes Goodman

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COLUMBUS — First-term state Rep. Wes Goodman (R., Cardington) became the second sitting member of the Ohio General Assembly in a month to resign over “inappropriate behavior.”

Without going into details of what occurred, Mr. Goodman, one of the most conservative members of the chamber, offered his apology. His district includes a sliver of southwestern Seneca County.

“Serving as the state representative for the 87th Ohio House District has been one of the great honors of my life,” he 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.

“For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry,” he said. “As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I sincerely ask for privacy for myself, my family, and my friends.”

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R., Clarksville) asked for his resignation.

“I was alerted to details yesterday afternoon regarding his involvement in inappropriate behavior related to his state office,” he said. “I met with him later in the day where he acknowledged and confirmed the allegations. It became clear that his resignation was the most appropriate course of action for him, his family, the constituents of the 87th House District, and this institution.”

A House Republican spokesman said no written or verbal complaints had been filed against Mr. Goodman. His resignation took effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

After facing no opposition in the 2016 general election, Mr. Goodman was appointed early to the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Jeff McClain (R., Upper Sandusky), a term-limited lawmaker who took a job with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Goodman is a former district aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana), who endorsed him for the 87th District seat in 2016. In his endorsement statement, Mr. Jordan praised him for “fighting for new conservative values and principles.”

“He has character, experience, and passion to serve the families and taxpayers of our part of Ohio in the Statehouse,” Congressman Jordan said at the time.

In reaction to the Goodman news, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said she believes Mr. Rosenberger was right in saying the resignation was the best move for him, his family, and his constituents.

The resignation is the second of a sitting lawmaker for “inappropriate behavior” in about a month. State Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay) resigned in October in the wake a sexual harassment complaint made by a state employee.

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats accepted the resignation of their chief of staff Michael Premo amid accusations of inappropriate conduct.

The resignations have occurred in the midst of a new sensitivity to the issue of sexual harassment given the attention the issue has gotten in recent months in politics, big business, and entertainment. The Ohio House and Senate have both recently announced that sexual harassment training will now be mandatory for their members in addition to employees.

Mr. Goodman lives with his family near their third generation farm in Morrow County. He served as managing director of the Conservative Action Project, which facilitates national conservative leaders in their work toward common goals.

Mr. Rosenberger said a committee will be announced soon to screen potential replacements to complete the more than one year left in Mr. Goodman’s term. The replacement will be named by the remaining 65 members of the House Republican caucus.

The 87th District includes Loudon and Big Spring townships and the village of New Riegel in Seneca County as well as all of Wyandot, Crawford, and Morrow counties and part of Marion.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R., Medina) said he learned of Goodman’s intention to resign on Tuesday night.

“I think both the House and Senate are sending a very clear message that inappropriate behavior won’t be tolerated,” he said. “If you engage in that, there will be swift action, and it will be decisive.”

As for the vagueness of what “inappropriate conduct” entails, Mr. Obhof said protection of the victims is one concern.

“I think in general you have an obligation as the employer not to do things that might harm an accuser or complainant ...” he said. “I think that’s important.”

Senators underwent sexual harassment training on Tuesday for roughly an hour, and employees are expected to do the same soon.

Mr. Obhof expects to hold interviews in the days after Thanksgiving for a potential replacement for Mr. Hite and expects a recommendation by month’s end.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496

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