The Leading Choices for the Next Speaker of the House are Problematic
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The Leading Choices for the Next Speaker of the House are Problematic

One has been linked to former KKK Grand Wizaed David Duke. The other has been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.

After the far right wing of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, led by Matt Gaetz, ousted Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker. Names began to surface as possible replacements, and those rising to the top wouldn't be considered the cream.

The two early leading choices are Steve Scalise, who once referred to himself as "David Duke without the baggage," and Jim Jordan, who has been accused by several Ohio State wrestlers who said Jordan was aware of sexual abuse in the program and did nothing, hence the name "Gym Jordan."

Scalise has since denied any association with Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and once a candidate for Governor of Louisiana, the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and President of the United States, losing every time.

Scalise has apologized for attending a white supremacist conference organized by Duke in 2002. Scalise says he wouldn't have attended had he known who organized it and its purpose. Duke says that Scalise was in regular contact with his campaign manager and was well aware of what was going on.

“Scalise would communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight," offered David Duke. "That is why he was invited and why he would come. Kenny knew Scalise, Scalise knew Kenny. They were friendly.”

Six former Ohio State wrestlers have accused Jim Jordan of ignoring them when they informed him of sexual abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss. Jordan was an assistant coach of the team during the period in question. Wrestler Tito Vazquez testified that he went to the doctor for a bloody nose, and the doctor insisted on examining his genitals. Vazquez went to Jordan, who refused to do anything.

An independent report commissioned by Ohio State found that Strauss assaulted 177 male students between 1979–1998. Eight other wrestlers said the abuse was common knowledge and that Jordan had to know it was happening. Doctor Strauss committed suicide in 2005.

Jordan has strenuously denied knowledge of the ongoing abuse, as in this statement from his congressional staff.

"Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State."

The OSU report said 22 coaches admitted knowledge of the assaults. Jordan himself says anyone who said he knew is a liar.

“The idea that I wouldn’t stand up for these athletes is ridiculous. I feel sorry for these guys, the fact that they aren’t telling the truth. I mean, these are guys I trained with, these are guys I worked out with, I ran with, wrestled with, and the idea that now they are saying what they are, it’s just not true.”

Dunyasha Yetts says he went to Jordan after Dr. Strauss wanted Yetts to remove his shorts in an examination for a thumb injury. Yetts told Jordan and head coach Russ Hellickson he was "uncomfortable" during the test. Gym Jordan had this response."

"If he tried that on me, I would kill him."

These are the top two contenders for Speaker of the House that Republicans have offered thus far. Other names mentioned include Byron Donalds who was arrested for the distribution of marijuana and on a bribery charge when he was younger. He went through a trial diversion program and has acknowledged the arrests except when he applied for a board membership at Edison College.

Matt Gaetz, who triggered Kevin McCarthy's removal, has been mentioned but is coy about whether he'd run. Gaetz has been investigated for sex trafficking. The facts seem not to be in dispute as he transported a then 17-year-old across state lines and an international border to have sex. His then good friend and wing-man Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to six related charges and was thought to have flipped on Gaetz before the Justice Department told Gaetz's lawyers he wouldn't be charged.

Whoever the Republicans pick, if their choice comes from this group, they could have and should have done better.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.