Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pajamagate: Do we really wanna impeach the best attorney general Ohio's had in a long time?

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Governor Ted Strickland is certainly making a statement by demanding the immediate impeachment of Attorney General Marc Dann. On Monday, Dann refused to resign after he admitted to having an extramarital affair with a 28-year-old aide. It came just after two female AG workers accused one of Dann’s top managers and roommate, Anthony Gutierrez, of sexual harassment and generally acting like a pervert. Dann’s communications director was also fired after it was revealed that he tried to force the women to lie to investigators.... While it took the Taft administration over six years and $50 million to finally shine a light on its own indiscretions – neatly packaged as “Coingate” – Strickland is smart to take immediate action concerning his own party’s scandal. However, one has to wonder if calling for Dann’s impeachment isn’t a bit hasty. After all, it’s unclear if there’s even grounds to impeach a public officeholder simply on the fact that he had a perfectly legal, albeit distasteful, affair with a consenting adult. Even Republican House Speaker Jon Husted has noted that it would be a grave mistake to impeach Dann, because it would set a hasty and problematic precedent for the future impeachment of other state officials, according to the Associated Press. And there remains the basic problem of pounding a guy over a sex scandal – especially when prominent Democrats take a see-no-evil approach to fellow party members like Jimmy Dimora, who's burned through millions in sweetheart deals, patronage, and pure incompetence. Still, Strickland has insisted that Dann’s adventures make it impossible for him to do a good job. "We no longer have even the most remote hope that you can continue to effectively serve as Attorney General and that is why we are asking for your resignation,” Strickland wrote in his letter asking Dann to resign or else face impeachment. Really? Affair aside, Dann has managed to accomplish more in his first year as AG than Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro did in their full terms combined. While Montgomery was busy suing cities to stop them from enacting predatory lending laws, and Petro did virtually nothing – including ignoring Coingate -- Dann was the first AG in the nation to sue lenders like New Century for their unseemly lending tactics. He also personally negotiated a $175 million settlement with Time Warner in its securities fraud case. He's also filed more pollution cases – 57 to be exact – than any other AG in Ohio history. Still not convinced? Dann instituted a much tougher reclassification of sex offenders, many of whom must now register for their entire lives. He’s also created a task force making sure that Ohio employers follow prevailing wage laws, and he’s launched a full-scale investigation into the questionable practices of student loan lending. While no one will argue that Dann ignored egregious sexual harassment in his own office, it’s hard to argue that his own affair has affected his ability to be a damn fine AG – the rare Ohio pol who actually does something for the little guy. Strickland’s right – Dann shouldn’t be given a pass. But maybe we should leave the dispensation of punishment to his wife, whom we’re sure has some ideas on how to handle this. --Denise Grollmus

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