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Ohio's new attorney general, Nancy Hardin Rogers, wants to use her five-month tenure to win back citizen confidence damaged by the Marc Dann controversy.
Mrs. Rogers, the former dean of Ohio State University's Moritz college of law, met with Blade staff members while in Toledo yesterday to preside over a symposium at the University of Toledo college of law.
She was appointed Wednesday to hold the office until a replacement for former Attorney General Dann is chosen in a special election Nov. 4.
Mr. Dann, a former state senator who was elected in 2006, resigned May 14 following an investigation of sexual harassment charges in his office and after admitting to an affair with a subordinate. The scandal cost three of his appointees their jobs.
Mrs. Rogers said she hadn't had time to make any personnel decisions.
She said some of the top employees predated Mr. Dann by 15 to 20 years, and she hasn't seen any indication that the department's legal work was compromised by the misbehavior of some on Mr. Dann's staff.
"I have the impression that this was a limited number of people," Mrs. Rogers said. "If that's not the case, I will do what's required. I'll make the tough decisions."
She said it's important to "restore the moral authority of the attorney general's office," including for the purpose of recruiting and retaining good lawyers.
"The attorney general ought to be looking out for justice and civil rights and the rights of consumers and it ought to be working at a high level and in order for that to occur there needs to be better morale in the office," Mrs. Rogers said.
She said she hoped the fact that many of the office's attorneys are her former students at Moritz would help in the transition. Her press secretary, Jim Gravelle, said 87 of the approximately 390 lawyers in the office are Moritz graduates.
"My hope would be that they would, because they know me, have some little trust," she said.
She said she never harbored any ambition to be attorney general and was surprised when she was asked to be considered for the appointment May 21.
Mrs. Rogers is a Democrat, although she said she hasn't always been, and some of her family have served prominently in Republican administrations.
Her father, Clifford Hardin, was U.S. secretary of agriculture under President Richard Nixon. Her father-in-law, William Rogers, was U.S. attorney general under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and secretary of state under President Richard Nixon.
The appointment has garnered bipartisan praise.
District 2 State Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills) said he knew Mrs. Rogers from his student days at OSU.
"She is exactly the person we need in that office. She has unparalleled integrity and has the respect of everybody in the Ohio legal community," Mr. Wagoner said.
District 11 Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said, "Everyone seems to agree that this appointment was a smart appointment."
She said that given the nature of the controversy - sexual harassment of women employees - it is a good thing that the appointee is a woman.
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