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Published: Monday, 5/5/2008

Gov. Strickland, top Democrats, call for Dann to resign; AG stays on job

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

Marc Dann Marc Dann
JAY LAPRETE / AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS Gov. Ted Strickland and other high-ranking Ohio Democrats Monday joined Republicans in the chorus for Attorney General Marc Dann to immediately resign and threatened to lead the march toward impeachment if he does not.

Mr. Dann refused to step down in two phone conversations Sunday with the governor and again in a statement released Monday.

We believe that your actions have irreparably harmed your ability to effectively serve the people of our great state, they wrote. The work of the Office of the Attorney General matters more, and is far more important, than any one person. In many, many cases it is all that stands between the people and the powerful.

Sadly, 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, it adds.

The letter, sent to the Attorney General last night, was signed by the governor, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Treasurer Richard Cordray, Senate Minority Leader Ray Miller (D., Columbus), House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty (D., Columbus), and Rep. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island), chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

The letter was delivered three days after the attorney general admitted to having an affair with an employee following an investigation into a top aide s sexual harassment of two other office workers.

It became clear immediately Friday that Democrats were not going to flock to defend Mr. Dann as Mr. Strickland and Mr. Redfern both said they would reserve judgment until after studying the results of an internal investigation into the harassment allegations.

By Sunday night, the decision had been made to cut Mr. Dann loose. The attorney general had ridden Republican scandals into office in 2006, proclaiming that Democrats would hold themselves to a higher standard.

I am in the office, have rolled up my sleeves, and am working on behalf of the people of State of Ohio. I hope all of your will do the same , Mr. Dann wrote in a memo to his staff members, informing them of his conversations with the governor.

I know that this is difficult, and I am truly sorry to have put all of you in this position, he wrote. But our work is too important to do anything but our jobs today.

Mr. Strickland said Monday that it is important that Democrats lead the way on impeachment proceedings in the Republican-controlled House.

I think it s very important that Democrats send the message that will clear our own house, he said.

We promised the people when we sought these offices that we would do our best to serve them confidently, sincerely, honestly with integrity. That was our commitment.

All of us felt that we had an obligation to the people of our state to send a very clear message that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated where it s coming from a Republican officeholder or a Democratic officeholder, he said.

But soon after taking office, an office he now admits he wasn t prepared to run after winning the election, Mr. Dann began an extramarital affair in his office, and he placed old friends from the Mahoning Valley into high-ranking jobs that his office s own internal investigation later determined smacked of cronyism.

If Mr. Dann resigns soon or is impeached, Mr. Strickland said he would appoint a replacement until a special election is held Nov. 4 to fill the last two years of his term. He said he had not spend much time yet considered who his choice might be.

Contact Jim Provance at:jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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