Anti-LGBT ‘family values’ Republican spent his career secretly targeting young men for sex

This is a story that is all too familiar.

Wes Goodman’s resignation from the Ohio legislature was a viral story last week for one reason: he was a “family values” anti-LGBT Republican who was caught having sex with another man in his office. Now a lengthy piece from Cleveland.com reveals that Goodman lived an entirely separate life from his public image as a homophobic religious zealot — a life that included sending “salacious texts and emails with gay men he met on Capitol Hill” and “young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain.”

Speaking to Cleveland.com, GOP staffer Johnny Hadlock described how his relationship with Goodman started back in 2010. Hadlock says the two began exchanging text messages when he confided in Goodman that he was a closeted gay man. According to Hadlock, the messages consisted of “gay banter” and phone sex. “Wes never sexually harassed me — we both knew what we were doing and we were both fine doing it,” Hadlock said.

But according to a anonymous GOP operative who spoke with Cleveland.com, Goodman was a sexual predator who targeted younger men.

The conservative operative said he’d target college kids who wanted to have him as a mentor and were scared to report his sexual advances because they didn’t want to damage their own careers. A former co-worker shared screenshots of messages Goodman sent him that the operative likened to the lewd texts that derailed the congressional career of New York’s Anthony Weiner.

“People never really wanted to come forward against someone in power,” the operative added.

In another account that took place in 2015 and highlighted by The Washington Post this Friday, Goodman is accused of inviting the teenage son of a Republican donor to his hotel bedroom during a conference in D.C. According to the teen’s account, Goodman (who then a candidate for the Ohio legislature) “unzipped his pants and fondled him in the middle of the night. The frightened teenager fled the room and told his mother and stepfather, who demanded action from the head of the organization hosting the conference.”

The person who the teen’s father reached out to was none other than Tony Perkins, head of the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council. “Trust me . . . this will not be ignored nor swept aside,” Perkins reportedly told the father. “It will be dealt with swiftly, but with prudence.” The incident was kept under wraps and Perkins privately told Goodman to drop his bid for state legislator. As a result of the incident, Goodman was expelled from a conservative political action group, but stayed in the race and went on to win.

Another account given to Cleveland.com is that of former GOP congressional staffer Chris Donnelly. The two allegedly met on Craiglist and had a sexual encounter in 2008. According to Donelly, Goodman was “all over Craiglist” and connected with many men on the platform. Cleveland.com says Hadlock and Donnelly told their stories out of frustration that Goodman would push anti-LGBT policies while living a secret gay life.

In a statement released this Wednesday, Goodman apologized for his “actions and choices.”

“We all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life,” Goodman’s statement read. “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.”

Hadlock says that although he doesn’t hold any malice towards Goodman, he thinks he deserved the public thrashing because he was so outspoken with his anti-gay rhetoric while secretly living a life as a gay man.

“My hope for Wes is that he can now pursue an authentic life and be happy, whatever that means.”

Featured image via Ohio House GOP

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