State Rep. Wes Goodman, who consistently touted his faith and conservative values, abruptly resigned late Tuesday after being confronted with evidence of inappropriate conduct with another man inside his Riffe Center office, the second Ohio lawmaker to fall within a month.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, met Tuesday afternoon with the Cardington Republican soon after the speaker became aware of an incident from weeks ago in the lawmaker's office that, sources said, involved a male in a consensual situation.

No harassment complaint, sexual or otherwise, was filed against Goodman, who is married. But someone, reportedly not a staffer, who knew of or witnessed the incident informed House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe of the situation early Tuesday afternoon.

“I was alerted to details yesterday afternoon regarding his involvement in inappropriate behavior related to his state office," Rosenberger said in a statement on Wednesday. "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.”

The speaker’s office is not releasing additional details of the conduct, though Brad Miller, spokesman for Rosenberger, said it did not involve Statehouse staffers or other legislative members. Rumors about Goodman's questionable conduct, including his use of social media, have been swirling at the Statehouse in the past few weeks and include stories dating back years to when he worked in Washington. His Facebook account has been taken offline.

Rosenberger and Goodman agreed, Miller said, "that it was activity unbecoming of a state representative."

Miller said there is no video of the incident, as some have speculated.

Ohio Republican Chairman Jane Timken supported Rosenberger's decision.

Goodman, 33, describes himself on his Twitter page as "Christian. American. Conservative. Republican." He says on his campaign web site that "healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history."

He expressed regret for his actions.

"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," he said in a statement. "For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry. As I move onto the next chapter of my life, I sincerely ask for privacy for myself, my family, and my friends.”

The departure of Goodman, comes less than a month after the resignation last month of Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, following a complaint of sexual harassment filed by a staffer who said he asked her repeatedly to have sex with him in his Columbus condo. On Monday, Senate Democratic Chief of Staff Mike Premo resigned following a complaint of inappropriate behavior by a staffer.

Senators underwent sexual harassment training Wednesday, said Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, and staff will follow in the coming weeks. House members and staff are expected to do the same in the near future.

"Both the House and the Senate are sending a pretty clear message that inappropriate behavior won't be tolerated," Obhof said. "If you engage in that, there will be swift action and it will be decisive."

Goodman submitted a two-sentence resignation letter, calling it the "greatest honor of my life to serve the constituents of the 87th House District."

Previously, Goodman was an aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, developing "pro-family and pro-liberty" policies. Later he served as managing director for the Conservative Action Project, where he says he "led the fight for conservative principles like a balanced budget, lower taxes, repealing Obamacare, life, and religious liberty..."

Jordan endorsed Goodman in 2016, saying he had “the character, experience and passion to serve the families and taxpayers of our part of Ohio in the Statehouse.”

A Jordan spokeswoman said he heard “no allegations of wrongdoing and received no accusations of misconduct” during Goodman’s nearly six years working for him.
“Congressman Jordan is deeply disappointed by this troubling news, and believes Mr. Goodman’s resignation was the best course of action," said spokeswoman Melika Willoughby.

In Premo’s case, Republican leaders say they don’t even know what happened. Obhof is not happy about it.

Democrats, citing attorney-client privilege, would not disclose to Obhof or Jason Mauk, his chief of staff, who made the complaint and what it was about.

Obhof is expected to send a letter to Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, saying that he would like the opportunity to talk to the woman who made the complaint.

Mike Rowe, spokesman for Yuko, said the staffer brought the complaint about Premo to Bethany Sanders, the caucus legal counsel, with the understanding that the woman's name would not be disclosed, and only certain information would be shared. That information was shared with Yuko and to the Republican legal counsel.

Dispatch Washington bureau reporter Jessica Wehrman contributed to this story.

jsiegel@dispatch.com

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