Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has only been in office 16 months, and he's already engulfed in scandal. Some Republicans are even talking about impeachment. But his political opponents are not the only ones up in arms. Dann's fellow Democrats (and Democratic-leaning bloggers) are also upset. On Friday, four staffers from Dann's office quit or resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal and Dann admitted to an extra-marital affair with one of his subordinates. From the Plain Dealer report:
Dann, 46, a brash upstart when he won election in a near-sweep of statewide offices by Democrats in November 2006, finds himself barely holding his job just 16 months into a four-year term. His Democratic colleagues are keeping their distance, and Republicans are demanding he quit.At least three Ohio papers (1, 2, 3) have called for Dann to resign. And it could get worse for the former ATL Lawyer of the Day, as the two women who originally filed the sexual harassment complaint (and others) claim Dann has yet to be candid with the public or state investigators about what he knew when, and what he did. The two women are also likely to file suit, which could lead to more unwelcome revelations. (As if there weren't enough already.)
The affair with his 28-year-old former scheduler emerged as collateral damage from a probe into harassment charges against one of his top managers that resulted in two firings and two resignations.
Fired were Anthony Gutierrez, director of general services, and Leo Jennings III, director of communications. Edgar Simpson, chief of staff, would have been fired but resigned. The woman linked to Dann, Jessica Utovich, also quit.
But Dann did not pay the same price, despite an improper relationship that may have violated his own office policies and his role in the harassment claims that brought down his three close friends: Gutierrez, Jennings and Simpson. . . .
Dann, the state's top lawyer, said he is not sure whether he violated his own office policies by having a relationship with Utovich, an Avon Lake native. He said he engaged in the relationship during a difficult time in his marriage.
"I don't know what it [the policy] says," an emotional Dann said at the news conference. "A consensual affair is not necessarily a violation of the sexual harassment policy in my office."
He said admitting the affair to his wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, a Youngstown State University journalism professor, was punishment enough for him - even though others may have suffered worse fates by losing their jobs.
While Dann pleaded for mercy, he wasn't getting much of it early on from his Democratic colleagues.
"It is what it is. We'll see what happens from here," Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said.
Gov. Ted Strickland suggested that there was a double-standard at play - Dann survives while others lose their jobs. Strickland, who said he was disappointed and angry, again called for an independent investigation of the harassment allegations and any links to Dann. . . .
Dann later said in an interview at The Plain Dealer with reporters and editors that he would request an outside review, something he had refused to do until now. But that didn't quiet his critics.
Ohio Republican leaders pounced. Reminded that Dann swept into office as an upset winner in November 2006 by casting the GOP as crooked and unaccountable, Republicans now say Dann is unfit to be attorney general and should quit. . . .
Republicans said that if Dann doesn't step down, they could try to impeach him. The Ohio House could bring articles of impeachment while the Ohio Senate could hold a trial and serve as jury, according to the Ohio Constitution.
But Dann vowed to continue, saying, "I haven't done anything impeachable."
It is a sad day for the state of Ohio that this man is our state's top law enforcement official. He should resign and let Gov. Strickland appoint a successor.