Inspector General details Dann mispending

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From a 35 cents payment at a McDonald’s in Ravenna to increasing the attorney general’s fleet by 99 vehicles at a cost of more than $1.9 million, Marc Dann misused money from the state budget, his campaign fund and a transition fund, according to a damning report released today by Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles.

The report was forwarded to numerous agencies for investigation including the IRS, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office, the Columbus City Attorney’s office, the Ohio Department of Taxation, the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel, the Ohio Elections Commission and the Ohio Ethics Commission.

The lengthy report accuses Dann, who resigned May 14 under pressure as attorney general, of using Dann for Ohio, his campaign fund, and the Marc Dann OAG [Ohio Attorney General] Transition Corp., as his personal bank accounts.

“Dann spent campaign funds inappropriately during his 17 months in office,” Charles wrote.

Among the purchases questioned by Charles are to a dinnerware sales company owned by his wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, and one to her company’s supplier.

“It is inconceivable that the payment made to Zesty Dishes was anything other than a person use of Dann’s campaign account,” Charles wrote.

The report also states Dann made “consulting fee payments” to Leo Jennings III, his communications director and close friend, from his campaign fund to pay for a condominium in Dublin shared by the two along with Anthony Gutierrez.

“It is clear that the consulting fee payments to Jennings were nothing more than a way to misappropriate campaign funds for personal use,” Charles wrote.

The report also finds acts of “wrongdoing occurred” regarding payments to Dann’s employees, friends and family.

Charles also criticized the working conditions at the attorney general’s office while Dann was in charge.

The office was “marked by abusive and vulgar language, excessive flirtatiousness and a failure by Dann and other managers to maintain professional boundaries,” Charles wrote. “Dann hired into his office a coterie of young women who were dubbed ‘the Dannettes.’ So unprofessional was the dress and conduct of some of these women that a project assistant in the office was assigned to conduct etiquette classes for them.”

Among “the Dannettes,” was Jessica Utovich, Dann’s scheduler. Dann admitted an extramarital affair with the woman.

Charles found it “appalling” that Dann hired friends and acquaintances “into key management positions despite the fact that the people were unqualified or faced serious legal problems that should have raised red flags. Several or those hires were people whose sole qualifications were their friendships with, and loyalty to, Dann.”

As part of the investigation, the Ohio auditor conducted a special audit of the AG’s office under Dann’s watch.

The report states the attorney general’s office under Dann bought 99 new vehicles, totaling $1.94 million, with 14 of them, at a cost of about $310,000, paid from an “unallowable funding source.”

The auditor’s report also identified 175 expenditures, totaling $3.66 million, for further examination.

Dann resigned May 14 under pressure, a day after Gov. Ted Strickland signed a bill allowing Charles to investigate the attorney general’s office.

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