COLUMBUS — After having his license stripped from him for six months, former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is back in the practice of law.
The Ohio Supreme Court today unanimously reinstated the Democratic attorney’s law license. It found that Mr. Dann, now in Cleveland, had “substantially complied” with its prior order from last November suspending his license.
“Today’s decision brings to an end an incredibly challenging period of my life,” Mr. Dann said in a written statement. “Since leaving public office a little more than five years ago, I have learned a great deal about the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and my respect for the rule of law has grown.
“I am also especially grateful to my colleagues, clients, family, and friends for their love and support during this difficult time,” he said.
Under pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Mr. Dann resigned from office in 2008 as Ohio’s top law enforcement official and attorney. His departure followed revelations showing his inner circle in turmoil as allegations of sexual harassment were brought against a top aide and he revealed his own consensual extramarital affair with his scheduler.
Mr. Dann was also accused of cronyism in hiring practices. He later pleaded guilty to two first-degree misdemeanors for using campaign and inauguration accounts to funnel extra pay to two top aides and friends and for failing to disclose income and gifts on ethics forms.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel had initially recommended a stayed six-month license suspension that would have allowed Mr. Dann to continue practicing. But a sharply critical high court instead imposed a flat six-month suspension of his license.
Mr. Dann had argued the punishment was too harsh. He compared it to the public reprimand handed to former Republican Gov. Bob Taft after he pleaded no contest in 2005 to four first-degree misdemeanor ethics violations for also failing to disclose gifts.
The court, however, found that, while Mr. Taft’s filing of a false ethics disclosure statement was deemed an oversight, Mr. Dann had worked to conceal the fact that a company closely affiliated with a campaign contributor had paid more than $20,000 for him and members of his family to travel by private jet to an Arizona seminar.
Mr. Dann falsely reported on his mandatory disclosure form that the Democratic Attorneys General Association had picked up the tab for $7,687.
It was the Republican-connected Coingate scandal involving Mr. Taft, the Bureau of Workers Compensation, and former Toledo area coin dealer Tom Noe that was largely credited with creating the political tide that helped to carry Mr. Dann into office in 2006. During his news conference when he confessed to his affair, he said even he was surprised he had won.
Seventeen months later he was gone in disgrace.
At the time of his suspension, Mr. Dann was a partner in the Cleveland law firm of Dann, Doberdruk, & Harshman LLC. The firm removed Mr. Dann’s name from its letterhead, but it stressed that the move was temporary and that it fully expected Mr. Dann to return once he’d completed his suspension.