Ohio AG wants outsiders looking in
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) -- Although her term as Ohio's attorney general, which began May 21, ends following the November elections, Nancy Hardin Rogers has ordered a "full office review."
A Rogers spokesman was quick to note that the five-member panel is not investigating the AG's office for anything, as is the Ohio Inspector General, among others. Instead, said Ted Hart, "She thought they'd [the panel] would be able to bring hard questions to the table to thoroughly examine ourselves." The Ohio Inspector General's office, on the other hand, has been investigating the AG's office since May, when allegations of sexual harassment and mismanagement led to the resignation of then- Ohio AG Marc Dann.
Of the five people named to the panel, at least three have strong ties to The Ohio State University, as does Rogers. She stepped down from serving as dean of the Michael E. Moritz College of Law at OSU when she was named Ohio's top lawyer and also took a leave of absence from the law college's faculty to fill the post.
Although it's not clear why Rogers implemented such a wide-scale review despite her abbreviated stint in office, Hart said, "This is one way of taking a look at things. I'm sure she doesn't see widespread problems in the office."
According to one member of the panel, the group has already met twice and will endeavor to meet twice weekly until they feel their work is completed. Rogers also sits in on the discussions, said panel member Gregory G. Lockhart, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Lockhart said his understanding of the panel's role is to "look at the bigger picture in areas where wider policy considerations may be raised." Calling Rogers someone he "thinks the world of," Lockhart declined to speculate as to why she convened the panel. He did say, however, that since she is an ethical person, "It's important to her to do everything she can to get the Attorney General's office on track. Ninety-eight percent of the Attorney General's office is doing well but what happened [with Marc Dann] showed some things can occur."
The panel's chair is Republican Robert M. Duncan, a retired federal judge, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice and a one-time Ohio State University trustee. While the group is expected to complete their review in three months, Lockhart said there are no plans for the panel to release a report of their findings. "We're issuing advice to the AG and her staff," he said.