The chorus of voices calling on Ohio AG Marc Dann to resign is getting louder. Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer:
By his own actions and by those of the people he trusted the most, Dann has turned the attorney general's office into a laughingstock.
He has embarrassed the good people who work there.
He has embarrassed the governor whose coattails he rode into office, and their party.
He has embarrassed his wife and children, who did nothing to deserve this.
He has embarrassed the people who voted for him and those who depend on him.
Through his disfunction, he has given aid and comfort to those who would prey upon those Ohioans and their communities who need the state to stand up for them - and who had some reason to believe that under his stewardship, the attorney general's office was doing just that.
In short, Marc Dann has disgraced himself far more than he seems to realize. He has fallen so far, so fast, that it's impossible to see how he can recover, personally, politically or professionally.
That's why he needs to go. . . .
The honor of the attorney general's office and that of its 1,400 employees has been compromised by a handful of people who accompanied Dann to Columbus and composed his inner circle. He claims to have been unaware of what Gutierrez and Jennings were up to, even when they shared an apartment. He seems unable to fathom the message he sent to his agency by carrying on a not-terribly-secret affair with a young staffer. He seems to think that good intentions can offset a long string of serious errors and misjudgments.
No one in public life is perfect. But all must be accountable. . . .
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio's attorney general must be able to provide leadership, command respect and exercise strong judgment. Marc Dann has failed miserably in all three and is not fit to serve.
Dann disgraced himself and his department, operating an office where the atmosphere was, in his words, "embarrassingly undignified."
That's an understatement. Dann, elected in November 2006 when Democrats swept four of five statewide offices, acknowledged at a news conference Friday that he had an affair with a subordinate while one of his lieutenants was sexually harassing two other attorney-general staffers. Yet another top aide tampered with the handling of the harassment complaints.
After the release of an in-house investigation Friday, two officials, General Services Director Anthony Gutierrez and Communications Director Leo Jennings III, were fired and a top adviser, Edgar C. Simpson, resigned.
The problem for Ohio's highest-ranking law enforcer is that problems caused by the three men are a direct result of Dann's bad judgment and lack of leadership. He knew the characters of his lieutenants when he hired them. Last year, he shared with Gutierrez and Jennings a Dublin-area condo where some of the sexual harassment occurred while he was there.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The tone of an organization is set by its leader. By that criterion, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann should resign.
On Friday Dann fired two top aides and forced the resignation of another because they violated the department's sex harassment policy. An hour later Dann acknowledged in a press conference that the standard for such misconduct had been modeled on his own behavior, as he had conducted an extramarital affair with a young female staffer. Yet Dann had the gall to say he would not step down because he was doing a "great" job as attorney general.
His hypocrisy is breathtaking. Dann was elected in 2006 as part of a Democratic sweep that promised to clean up state government from the taint of the scandal-plagued Taft years. His behavior is a betrayal of that promise and an embarrassment to the honorable people who serve in government.
Gov. Ted Strickland said he was shocked at the double standard Dann is exhibiting by staying on after firing his aides, but he stopped short of calling for Dann's resignation. Too bad. This is a moment when the governor should demand that Dann do what is right. . . .
There are those, including apparently Dann, who ask why a consensual extramarital affair is anyone else's business, much less a reason for him to leave office. But the issue is not whether Dann had an affair, but that he had an affair with someone who worked for him.
It is a legitimate question to ask whether he employed this woman at public expense because she was qualified or because she was his girlfriend. It also raises the specter of a boss using his position to obtain sexual favors, which is why such behavior is a violation of policy in most workplaces.
From the Akron Beacon-Journal:
Perhaps you're wondering after reviewing the fallout from the state attorney general's office, two firings of top aides, one resignation, the boss himself admitting a ''romantic relationship'' with an employee: What would an independent investigation have revealed?
Not that all of us haven't learned enough. Still, Marc Dann chose to keep the examination inside his office, handing the job to Ben Espy, a most capable attorney and a former state senator. An earlier version of Dann wouldn't have let such a dodge pass without yelping righteously and furiously. . . .
Dann hired his pal Anthony Gutierrez to run the maintenance, purchasing and mailroom operations. The Espy report describes no less than a manager out of control, pressuring women in the office for sexual activity, intimidating other workers by flaunting his connections to Dann, even suggesting that his family had mob connections.
Gutierrez mixed drinking with driving state vehicles (getting into wrecks). He owed thousands in back taxes at the time of his hiring. His escapade triggered the investigation. One evening, he brought a younger female colleague to the Dublin condo he shared with Dann and Leo Jennings, the attorney general's communications director. She drank too much, fell asleep and charges that she woke up with her pants unbuttoned and Gutierrez next to her.
Jennings joined Gutierrez in losing his job. The report stated that Jennings ''attempted to impede the investigation by attempting to persuade [assistant attorney general] Jennifer Urban to give false testimony under oath.''
Urban told Dann in a text message: ''I will not lie like Leo wants me to. . . . I love you and Tony and Leo, but not enough to get disbarred.''
How refreshing! Honor and duty in the attorney general's office. . . .
Must he go? Put a Republican in his place, and Marc Dann would demand a resignation, rushing past worthy accomplishments. That is the trap he set for himself: Will he be taken seriously?
Dann's hometown Youngstown Vindicator is the one voice calling for Dann to get a second chance — at least until an independent investigation is completed.
UPDATE: The Dispatch reports the first sexual harassment complaint was filed, and handled inappropriately, last October.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: I have just learned the good news that AG Marc Dann is withdrawing as the Case Western Reserve University School of Law's commencement speaker.