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Published: Wednesday, 6/12/2013

Top court reinstates law license of former Attorney General

Dann held elected office for 17 months

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Dann Dann
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COLUMBUS — Ohio’s former top lawyer is a lawyer again.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated the law license of former attorney general Marc Dann after he completed a six-month suspension.

“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.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor signed the reinstatement order, with the support of the rest of the bench.

Under pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Mr. Dann, a Democrat, resigned from office in 2008. Allegations of sexual harassment against a top aide and friend ultimately led Mr. Dann to reveal his own consensual extramarital affair with his office scheduler.

He later pleaded guilty to two first-degree misdemeanors for using campaign and inauguration accounts to funnel extra pay to two top aides and for failing to disclose income and gifts on ethics forms.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel 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.

Mr. Dann had argued that the punishment was too harsh. He compared it to the public reprimand the court 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 former Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe and rare-coin investment funds he operated for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation that was largely credited for the political wave that propelled Mr. Dann, then a state senator from Youngstown, to victory in 2006.

During the news conference in which he confessed his affair, Mr. Dann said he surprised even himself when he defeated Betty Montgomery, a veteran Republican attorney general and state auditor.

However, Mr. Dann was gone after just 17 months in office.

Mr. Dann will return as a name partner in the Cleveland law firm of Dann, Doberdruk, & Harshman LLC.

“I return to working on behalf of my clients with renewed energy for standing up to the banks and big business on behalf of individuals and small businesses,” Mr. Dann said.

“I intend to continue to fight the battle against wrongful foreclosures and rejoin the fight to protect the rights of hard-working people,” he added.

Mr. Dann has paid nearly $2,000 in court and publication costs related to his suspension order. He also has completed five continuing-education activities that heavily focused on ethics.

Mr. Dann still has about four years left on his ban from holding public office or a state job. That prohibition stemmed from his criminal sentence.

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



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