By David Skolnick
That’s the reaction of many people who read the state inspector general’s report and supporting documentation into the brief but scandalous tenure of Marc Dann as attorney general.
If you believe everything in the report, Dann along with “a cadre of his former senior managers and a handful of employees” turned the “office of the ‘people’s lawyer’ into a house of scandal.”
Inspector General Thomas P. Charles certainly has a flair for the dramatic.
The report reads like a novel telling Dann’s tragic story. Dann counters that the report is more a work of fiction.
Dann was quick to jump on a response to the report insisting it is “filled with innuendo rather than fact” and Charles has a “clear bias” against him.
But that doesn’t explain the damning reports against him filed by the Ohio secretary of state, state auditor and Ohio Ethics Commission.
Of course, Dann and many of those listed in the report are from the Mahoning Valley as is Charles.
Anthony Gutierrez, a close friend of Dann’s and his director of general services, tops the list.
The ethics commission is recommending criminal charges be filed against Gutierrez for a variety of questionable acts.
The inspector general accuses Gutierrez of improperly using state equipment and vehicles, concealing his ownership in a construction company, deceptively taking $5,000 from Dann’s political campaign, among other items.
Then there’s Leo Jennings III, another close friend of Dann and his former communications director.
Things were getting too expensive for Jennings in Columbus even though he was making about $100,000 a year. Dann increased Jennings’ campaign “consulting fee” to $3,000 a month. The money was used to pay the rent and utilities on the Dublin condo Jennings, Dann and Gutierrez shared, Charles wrote.
As for the hard work he was doing, Jennings, just married to Wife No. 3, had an affair with a woman in the office, Charles wrote.
But wait, there’s more.
“We found a number of sexually explicit e-mails on his state computer,” Charles wrote. “Most were from” [wait for it, wait for it] “former Mahoning County Commissioner Vicki Sherlock, with whom Jennings had had a long-term live-in relationship.”
Yup, Leo was still getting icky with Vicki thanks to his state computer.
Stay classy, Leo!
Michael Harshman, another close friend of Dann, received $50,000 for legal work he did for Dann during a five-week period before, during and after Dann’s resignation.
Charles had questions about the payment. Harshman said he and Dann agreed on the $50,000 amount and he sent Dann an invoice by e-mail.
“For five weeks of my life I didn’t do anything else” except provide legal advice to Dann,” Harshman said.
That includes appearing with Dann at newspaper editorial board meetings, including one on March 2 with The Vindicator.
Five weeks at $10,000 a week from Dann’s campaign account; not bad for a close friend.
There are plenty more, but I’ll leave you with Chris Geidner, a Dann friend who lived rent-free in the Dann’s family pool house adjacent to the ex-AG’s Liberty house. Geidner, who was counsel to the attorney general, is the only close friend of Dann mentioned in the report still working at the office though he’s been demoted.
Geidner, with minimal legal experience, told Charles that Dann threw him into the “deep end” by naming him counsel to the attorney general. He added that he wasn’t seasoned enough for the job.
“Geidner also agreed that some of the problems and personnel issues he encountered resulted from his lack of experience.”
Those problems, Charles wrote included “rude and vulgar language.”
And where did he pick it up? He claimed “Dann set the tone for the office and that this type of behavior was acceptable,” Charles wrote.