Business First : House Democrats begin impeachment process for Dann

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

House Democrats begin impeachment process for Dann

Business First of Columbus | May 13, 2008

Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives have filed to impeach Attorney General Marc Dann.

The House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday filed nine articles of impeachment against Dann, many of which point to alleged instances of neglect that legislators contend occurred in Dann's sworn testimony during an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations involving a former staffer and other statements Ohio's top lawyer has made.

The move comes after a torrent of calls for the official's resignation in light of a sexual-harassment probe that led to the firing or departure of three top staffers and Dann's own admission of an extra-marital affair with an employee. Anthony Gutierrez, Dann's general services director and the subject of the harassment probe, was fired along with spokesman Leo Jennings. Ed Simpson, the office's chief of policy and administration, resigned rather than being fired after the report found he didn't properly investigate the harassment allegations.

"We have identified a pattern of misconduct that we believe rises to the level of impeachable offenses," Reps. Dan Dodd, D-Hebron, Jennifer Garrison, D-Marietta, and Mark Okey, D-Carrollton, said in a joint statement. "We promised the people of Ohio to end a culture of corruption that existed in the past, and we are fulfilling that promise by cleaning our own house when events and circumstances warrant."

The articles of impeachment, listed below, are based on the following allegations:

* Malfeasance and improper exercise of authority: Dann obstructed the sexual-harassment investigation.

* Malfeasance: Dann intentionally made misleading statements under oath.

* Nonfeasance and gross neglect of duty: Dann neglected to perform official duties and admitted to not being competent or qualified to perform them.

* Nonfeasance and neglect (four related charges): Dann failed to "exercise due care" in the office's administration because he knew or should have known his conduct contributed to what the probe called a "hostile work environment;" he failed to exercise due care to ensure safety and security of state property; he failed to investigate and prohibit improper use of state property, of which he had knowledge or should have.

* Gross neglect of duty: Dann undermined the integrity and efficiency of his office, betraying the public's trust.

* Gross immorality: Dann committed immoral "acts of gross immorality," which he knew or should have known would undermine the effectiveness of the office.