Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) slammed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), reminding him of certain scandals in Ohio.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was accused of failing to act to stop sexual abuse during his time as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, argued on Thursday that voters in Washington, D.C., should not be represented in Congress because some of their local elected officials have been involved in ethics scandals.
The comments came at a House Oversight Committee hearing on H.R. 51, a bill to grant statehood to the residents of Washington while leaving its federal buildings under the control of Congress. Jordan strongly opposed the proposal, noting that a current member of the D.C. council is under investigation for ethical issues.
"We cannot ignore the elephant in the room," Jordan charged. "The District government currently faces serious allegations of misconduct. We'd hoped to have an honest conversation about some of these issues this morning. Which is why we asked Chairman [Elijah] Cummings to invite D.C. Councilmember and former Metro Chairman Jack Evans to testify today. However, the chairman denied that request."
Evans, a longtime Ward 2 councilmember, is reportedly the subject of a federal grand jury investigation and a city council probe for allegedly profiting from his public position by helping a company that was secretly paying him.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), Washington's nonvoting congressional delegate, quickly annihilated Jordan's argument.
"The allegations against Mr. Evans have nothing to do with D.C. statehood and the fundamental suffrage of 700,000 American citizens," she explained. "The voting rights of Americans citizens and their representatives in Congress have never been and never will be contingent on state and local officials never engaging in misdeeds."
Norton then observed that some Ohio elected officials had also run afoul of ethics. "Certainly officials in Ohio, if I may say so, have been the subject of multiple political scandals for many years, including one from 2018 that I won't go into in detail. But no one suggests that Ohio ought to lose its status and no one has seriously questioned Ohio's fitness to be a state."
Norton could have been making reference to Jordan's 2018 wrestling sexual abuse issues. (Jordan has denied any wrongdoing.)
She could have been referencing his former colleague, then-Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), who was accused of using official resources for political purposes. The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended the House Ethics Committee open an investigation into that matter in 2018.
It is even possible that she was referring to a scandal in November 2017, when a former Jordan aide named Wes Goodman resigned from the Ohio state House of Representatives after "inappropriate behavior" with a man in his office.
There have been numerous other ethical scandals involving Ohio politicians over the years. Then-Rep. James Traficant (D) was expelled from Congress in 2002 after being convicted of bribery and racketeering. Republican fundraiser and rare coin dealer Tom Noe received an 18-year prison sentence in 2006 for embezzling from a state workers' compensation fund. In 2005, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft (R) was criminally convicted after failing to file complete public financial disclosures.
Despite these and many other corruption scandals, Ohio continues to have two seats in the U.S. Senate and 16 seats in the House.
In Washington, however, residents receive only a nonvoting delegate to the House, and no senators. This taxation without representation is further complicated by frequent moves by Jordan and other House Republicans to overrule its local government decisions through Congressional action.
Jordan also argued that Washington's estimated 702,000-plus residents should not have the same rights Ohio has because its tax revenues do not cover all of its expenses without federal subsidies. "Local revenue sources only account for half of DC's funding sources," he claimed. "The District is simply not yet self-sustainable."
According to its state Office of Budget and Management, Ohio's state government receives more than $13 billion annually in federal funding.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.