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Editorial Consensus Dann Must Go:

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.

wb (mail):
And how is Dann different from Bill Clinton? He 'fessed up.
5.4.2008 10:08am
great unknown (mail):
wb: Big difference - Dann hasn't perjured himself.
Of course, even if he had, he still enjoys the qualified immunity granted Democrats. Or is it that we simply expect this kind of behavior from them?
5.4.2008 10:34am
wb (mail):
I had forgotten about that pesky legal concept of truth telling.

More seriously, while it is gratifying to see that Ohio Democrats now understand that sex with subordinate employees is unacceptable behavior, it is also unfortunate that consensual sex is confused with harassment. While one is legally actionable, th other is not. Thus, Gov. Strickland's claim of a "double standard" is overblown. That claim may have applied to Mr. Spitzer, but is a stretch regarding Mr. Dann. Mr. Dann may or may not be otherwise executing the duties of the AG well (that seems to be irrelevant to the press ad the Governor); his abilities as a judge of good character are clearly dubious. A call for him to end his affair is in order, as may be an IG investigation if he is violating express administrative guidelines. But resignation - it's a political ploy in an election year.
5.4.2008 11:12am
NatSecLawGuy:
Kinda figures he would be the Case Western's commencement speaker with the luck the school has been having. Maybe if the Northwestern students are successful in kicking Springer out then maybe he will do ours instead. Sad, but true, that I would prefer the latter at this point.
5.4.2008 11:22am
great unknown (mail):
wb: I'm glad you brought up the phrase "legally actionable." This is precisely the phrase the AG's office used in an attempt to intimidate the press into supressing early news reports about the scandal: "legally actionable inaccuracies."
viz the Dispatch report cited in the UPDATE

Was Mr. Dann aware of this coverup attempt? This might be the ultimate smoking gun.
5.4.2008 11:23am
George Tenet Fangirl:
In other news, David Vitter (R-LA) remains a US Senator.
5.4.2008 11:24am
Bpbatista (mail):
Ohio Republicans were rightfully tossed from office in 2006 because of rampant corruption and incompetence. But at least it took them 16 years to get to that point. Marc Dann has reached that nadir in a mere 16 months.
5.4.2008 11:36am
Lucius Cornelius:
Things are looking even worse for Marc Dann. Today's Columbus Dispatch (Sunday, May 4, 2008) had a front page story that contained new details in this scandal.

Dann knew the bad actors in his office for many years and he was sharing a condo with two of them. Now it appears that the AG's office human resources department was reluctant to take action when female employees were coming in to make complaints.

I work for the State of Ohio in a different agency.
Having an affair with a subordinate is a serious issue in my agency and is covered by the office rules. Apparently it is grounds for discipline (or perhaps even termination of employment).

All of the documents from the investigation are available online courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I have not read all of these documents yet. I am particularly interested in the Espy report. The question may well be how soon Dann resigns and whether the person appointed to replace him serves for a few months or until 2011.
5.4.2008 11:39am
Hoosier:
I actually laughed out loud when I saw the "Vindicator" was the only major-town daily that was out of step.

Mrs. Hoosier is a Y-town native. The political corruption in Mahoning County defies belief. And this is coming from a native of Cook County, Illinois. After decades of Jimmy Trafficant, Marc Dann must seem like a veritable Wm Howard Taft to Steel Valley.

They probably can't figure out why eveyone's making a big deal. I mean, Dann hasn't had anyone rubbed out.
5.4.2008 12:00pm
Hoosier:
Kinda figures he would be the Case Western's commencement speaker with the luck the school has been having.

I've missed some news, it would appear. Aside from the former-president getting the boot a couple years ago--if I remember correctly--for trying to expand Case from a Sci-Tech intitute and beef up lib-arts, what has happened?

My wife has family a few blocks away from Case, and when we visit I always read the "Plain Dealer." But I don't think I've seen any important news about the place since the dust-up over the presidency. (My suggestion for an improvement: Get a new name that doesn't sound like an insurance holding-company. But I can't be the first to suggest that, can I?)
5.4.2008 12:05pm
Ted F (www):
Who becomes AG if Dann resigns?
5.4.2008 12:34pm
Curt Fischer:

My wife has family a few blocks away from Case, and when we visit I always read the "Plain Dealer." But I don't think I've seen any important news about the place since the dust-up over the presidency. (My suggestion for an improvement: Get a new name that doesn't sound like an insurance holding-company. But I can't be the first to suggest that, can I?)


Well, let's see.

Which dust-up over which presidency? When David H. Auston quit after less than two years on the job because of frustrations that he was being micromanaged by the board of trustees? When Edward Hundert quit because the faculty voted no confidence in him due to budget troubles at the school?

Maybe it's that CWRU's Weatherhead School of Business has had six deans from 1998 to 2006.

Maybe it's that the school decided to name itself CWRU for many years, then to suddenly redesign its logo, and call itself Case (which is how it is informally called by many students and staff anyway), in a move that alienated many alumni. After three years of steady insistence of "Case", enough time to infuriate the alumni but not enough for the new name and logo to become entrenched, though, it went back to the old version.

Maybe it's that in the past five years former President Hundert and the dean of the school of engineering led a divisive battle against CWRU's own School of Engineering Alumni Association, attempting to force the alumni association to relocate its office and to make the historically independent association part of the general CWRU alumni association.

Since I graduated in 2001, the CWRU administration has disappointed me repeatedly. I hope things improve soon. Otherwise I might have to stop admitting to being a CWRU alumnus out of shame.

With stable, solid leadership, I think CWRU can improve, certainly to reclaim its place somewhere between the lower ranks of top-tier national research universities and the upper ranks of middle-tier private research universities. In time, maybe it could one day reclaim its pre-1920s status as one of the nation's premier research universities.
5.4.2008 12:52pm
Jim T:
This is all a mere distraction from the "Real Issues". Can't we all just move on?

This is just about sex anyway.
5.4.2008 1:23pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

In other news, David Vitter (R-LA) remains a US Senator.


As does Larry "Wide Stance" Craig... and I donate to "that" party.
5.4.2008 3:34pm
Lucius Cornelius:
If Dann resigns 40 days or more before the November 2008 election, then the Governor appoints a successor. But there would have to be a special election.

If Dann resigns less than 40 days before the election, the Governor appoints a successor who would serve out the rest of Dann's term.

Here is the relevant provision from the Ohio Constitution:

ยง 3.18 What vacancies governor to fill

Should the office of Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, Secretary of State, or Attorney General become vacant, for any of the causes specified in the fifteenth section of this article, the Governor shall fill the vacancy until the disability is removed, or a successor elected and qualified. Such successor shall be elected for the unexpired term of the vacant office at the first general election in an even numbered year that occurs more than forty days after the vacancy has occurred; provided, that when the unexpired term ends within one year immediately following the date of such general election, an election to fill such unexpired term shall not be held and the appointment shall be for such unexpired term.


I have heard rumors that the Governor's legal counsel, Kent Markus, could be appointed. Or, Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray.

I suppose the Governor could appoint Ben Espy (former minority leader of the Ohio Senate and former Columbus City Counsel member). Espy was appointed to a top position in the AG's office by Dann. Espy headed up the internal investigation of this mess. There are a lot of people in Columbus (many of them Dems) who do not like Espy. Considering his history as a politician, I am surprised that Dann put him in charge of this investigation.
5.4.2008 3:35pm
Lucas (mail):
An interesting side twist to this is that, despite the talk about Republican corruption, Dann probably won because of the votes of gun owners.

His Republican opponent, Betty Montgomery, was reviled because of her support for various stupid gun control measures, including fighting against concealed carry. Dann, as a Senator, voted for concealed carry, and pledged to continue that support as AG (and has done so).

If Dann does resign, I really think the Dems will lose the office in a special election, in that they don't have a viable pro-gun candidate. And I suspect that, while Betty Montgomery wouldn't run again, her primary opponent, Tim Grendell, probably would. He's also well-liked in the gun community, and, I suspect with everything else, would coast to a victory over any Dem.

I bet Grendell is thanking his lucky stars at the moment (and all it requires is for Dann to resign).
5.4.2008 5:08pm
guest3987:
After decades of Jimmy Trafficant, Marc Dann must seem like a veritable Wm Howard Taft to Steel Valley.

Note so fast. Look at how Dann filled his vacant Senate seat when he was elected AG.

For those unfamiliar with Ohio politics, this is who Dann recommended for the seat. Hardly a step up, is one at all, from Traficant.
5.4.2008 5:08pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
I don't really have anything to say about this particular guy.

However, I do have some doubts about the wisdom of rules that create blanket prohibitions about a manager starting to date one of his employees. One might think it is best if managers or other people in positions of power never enter a relationship with a subordinate but we need to recognize that a rule to this effect won't make it so. The question should be what sort of rule will minimize the harms in the real world not what sort of rule will reflect the way we wish the world was or cover the organization's ass in a lawsuit.

In academia, particular with respect to TA/grader and student relations, there seem to be roughly two sorts of approaches to this issue. There are the universities (usually private) that take a more casual, realistic attitude toward this issue and ask that TAs/graders inform their superiors of relationships so the student's papers can be handled by someone who isn't sleeping with them*. On the other hand there are the universities (often public) with zero tolerance policies some of them so broadly defined as to be absurd (UC Berkeley forbids a relationship with anyone who one might teach/grade in the future). Of course these more stringent policies don't really change who is attracted to whom or who gets together but at best they make the conscientious grad students put off actually sleeping/officially dating a student until the end of the term and at worse encourage people to simply keep things secret. In other words they actually increase the likelihood of someone being graded by someone with a romantic interest in them and multiply the odds that a girl will have to worry that making the teacher she is secretly having an affair with mad will negatively affect her grade (you can't assume someone who explicitly agreed to keep something secret to get things started will report it them).

I think this same lesson could be applied to office relationships as well. Simply mandating that relationships shouldn't happen isn't effective. What is effective is giving people ways out of the situation. The best policies I've seen create a no questions asked transfer this person out of my control policy. Sure at high levels it may be hard to find an equivalently paid position in another area but at that point we just have to ask how much we care about not having people in relationships working for each other. If we care a great deal we need to simply create those positions when needed even knowing that sometimes these transfers will be used simply because the boss finds the person annoying or had a fight with their uncle or whatever.


*: Actually when I was at caltech they told me to go ahead and grade my girlfriend's HW. My professor (rightly) figured there would be less unfairness if I graded her HW than if he used some totally different standard to do so since I was the only grader but it was still a bad idea. Even though in this particular case it may have been the more fair solution and didn't create any perception of unfairness it did create a fair bit of stress on the relationship and in most circumstances the perception of unfairness would be a greater issue.
5.4.2008 5:08pm
Gaius Marius:
Leave it to the Buckeyes to elect this numbskull as its AG. Go Blue!
5.4.2008 8:36pm
guest3987:
None of this is suprising. Dann had a disciplinary record with the state supreme court before he ran for AG.
5.4.2008 11:02pm
CaseLawAlum:
This can't be serious? So after all the bad decisions Gary Simson made as new Dean (http://abovethelaw.com /2008 /04 /_from_gary_simson_sent.php)he selected a guy who is mired in scandal as commencement speaker?

Please tell me Marc Dann was selected pre-scandal?

Why doesn't Simson ask an alum to give the speech, I hear David Shall (http:// www.crainscleveland.com/ article/20070723/ FREE/307230041/ ) is available.

It's funny, one could write a similar Plain Dealer headline about Gary Simson...
5.4.2008 11:20pm