Dann still under fire from Ohio officials

By John O'Brien | Jun 5, 2008



COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - The spotlight still shines on former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.

The disgraced Democrat, who resigned last month after admitting to an affair with a staffer, will be investigated by Republican state Auditor Mary Taylor, she announced Wednesday.

The audit concerns the spending of public funds during Dann's 16 months in office.

"The allegations of misspending and other wrongdoing at the Attorney General's office warrant elevating our review to a special audit," Taylor said.

"I take the allegations of the potential misuse of public funds very seriously. The highly trained special audit investigators on my staff will thoroughly examine the potential misspending of public tax dollars at the Attorney General's office and report the findings to the public once the investigation is complete."

The Secretary of State's office, state Inspector General, Department of Administrative Services and Highway Patrol have all begun their own investigations of Dann's office since his admission.

Taylor wrote to new Attorney General Nancy Hardin Rogers that she will assist the other agencies with their investigations.

According to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is looking into more than $110,000 used by Dann from his campaign fund for expenses. They include expenditures like:

-More than $110,000 in campaign funds used for expenses;

-$33,000 for a home security system;

-More than $6,000 in car payments; and

-$328.60 for a rap concert at Youngstown State University.

Gov. Ted Strickland led a group of Democrats who wanted Dann to resign in early May, threatening him with impeachment after Dann admitted to an affair May 1 while releasing a 57-page report substantiating allegations of sexual harassment against Dann aide and friend Anthony Gutierrez.

The report found that, "Management employees encouraged and tolerated a workplace atmosphere of frequent profanity, extremely casual and improper personal interactions with subordinates and a general lack of professionalism and respect."

Gutierrez and the attorney general's communications director, Leo Jennings III, were fired for trying to coax an assistant attorney general to lie to investigators, while Dann's chief of staff, Edgar Simpson, was forced to resign.

Dann had the affair with Jessica Utovich, 28, who voluntarily resigned her position as his office's travel coordinator.

The report also found that Dann "exercised poor judgment by engaging in and permitting (employee) Cindy Stankoski to come to his home for drinks and pizza.

A new Attorney General will be picked by voters in November. So far, only one candidate has filed - Robert Owens, an Independent.

The major parties have until Aug. 20 to submit their candidates.

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

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