Ohio AG staffers picking up pieces after Dann's disgracing

John O'Brien May 15, 2008, 4:00pm


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - In the wake of Marc Dann's resignation, those who kept their jobs through the recent group of scandals at the Ohio Attorney General's office on Thursday received an update on their coming transition.

Ben Espy, the man who oversaw the probe into sexual harassment allegations that led to the terminations of two employees and forced retirement of another, will be the point of contact between the Attorney General's office and the state's Inspector General.

The Legislature and Gov. Ted Strickland authorized the investigation earlier this week.

"Neither the Communications office nor anyone else in the office can speak for or speculate about the OIG or any other investigating agency," the memo says.

After days of refusing to do so, Dann, a Democrat, decided to resign Wednesday amid pressure from both his party and the state's GOP. When releasing Espy's report, Dann admitted to an affair with a member of his staff.

Democratic lawmakers threatened Dann with impeachment.

"The only way to protect the priorities of the attorney general's office and the people of Ohio is to remove myself as attorney general," Dann said.

"It is my belief that this will preserve the great work being done by the office of Attorney General."

Until Strickland makes his choice for a replacement, First Assistant Attorney General Tom Winters will fill in for Dann. He is not officially the state's Attorney General though, but he has authority over the office.

"All inquiries about what decisions the Governor will make in this regard must be referred to the Governor's office," the memo says. "We are not able to comment on what decisions the Governor may make."

The memo adds that office's two main priorities -- continuing ongoing investigations and restoring public confidence in the office.

Running on an anti-corruption platform in November 2006, Dann was elected attorney general after unseating Republican Betty Montgomery in Democrats' near-sweep of statewide offices in Ohio.

Strickland said Dann, once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, "has come to realize the seriousness of the situation" as he and other Democratic leaders called for his resignation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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