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COLUMBUS Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, with Gov. Ted Strickland at his side in the governor s Satehouse office, resigned Wednesday afternoon in the wake of a sexual-harassment scandal and his admission that he had an extramarital affair with an employee.
Mr. Dann's resignation is effectively immediately.
"It is now clear to me that the only way to protect [my] priorities for the office of Attorney General and the people of Ohio is to remove myself from the situation," a red-eyed Mr. Dann said. "It is now my highest priority to focus on my family."
Mr. Dann did not take questions from reporters and as he walked out of the news conference his daughter, Mia, put her arm around his shoulders.
"I apologize and accept responsibility for failing to give an administrative backbone worthy of the great legal work being done. I apologize and accept responsibility for not conducting my personal life in a way that is consistent with the important mission of the office," Mr. Dann wrote in his letter of resignation addressed to Governor Strickland.
"It's the right thing for Ohio and for the Attorney General's Office," Governor Strickland said during the joint news conference. "I am pleased that he has tendered his resignation. There was absolutely no deal between me or my administration and Attorney General Dann."
Driven from office after near unanimous calls for his resignation from Republicans and fellow Democrats, Mr. Dann resigned the day after Democrats filed nine articles of impeachment and the day after the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to allow the state inspector general to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of his office.
Governor Strickland said until he appoints a successor, Tom Winters, an assistant attorney general, will oversee and supervise the Attorney General's Office.
Earlier Wednesday, state investigators representing Inspection General Tom Charles seized computers from Mr. Dann s offices.
The Charles investigation began Wednesday morning amid tighter-than-usual scrutiny by highway patrolmen of those entering and leaving the offices.
We are assisting the inspector general s office, said patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Landis. He referred all other calls to Inspector General Tom Charles, whom the legislature and Gov. Ted Strickland Tuesday granted unprecedented, one-time authority to investigate an independent, constitutionally elected office not under the governor s control.
Troopers closely watched the Rhodes Tower elevators leading to Mr. Dann s office, checking identification of employees, but they insisted they weren t preventing people from coming and going.
[The inspector general s people] are here, said attorney general spokesman Jim Gravelle. Exactly what they re doing, I don t know. They are talking to people on the floor, very casually I would say.
Mr. Gravelle, early Wednesday, shot down a report that Mr. Dann planned to make a statement. A horde of reporters arrived at the attorney general s office for a statement that never came.
We did not call a press conference, said Mr. Gravelle. I don t expect a statement from the attorney general.
On May 2, Mr. Dann admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate in his office, and said he feared that may have contributed to an office atmosphere that led to sexual harassment allegations by two other employees against one of his top aides.
He fired that aide, Anthony Gutierrez; fired communications director Leo Jennings for allegedly trying to convince another employee to mislead internal investigators; and accepted the forced resignation of chief-of-staff Edgar Simpson for failing to act swiftly on the harassment complaints.
Mr. Dann has resisted calls for his resignation from Republicans and threats of impeachment from fellow Democrats, although he has been involved in talks with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a former attorney general, that continued Wednesday.
Mr. Dann s private lawyer put out feelers to see whether lawmakers would consider delaying the start of Mr. Charles investigation in exchange for his immediate resignation, but the offer was rebuffed. Instead, the law appropriating $250,000 for the investigation was swiftly passed and signed by Mr. Strickland Tuesday. Investigators wasted little time beginning their work.
Contact Jim Provance at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.