Dann’s troubles behind him — finally

On the side

New website: The Ohio Black Republicans Association, with Brenda Mack of Canfield as its president, launched its new website — ohioblackrepublicans.org — and is planning to establish active local chapters in counties for the first time in its history.

“We are proud to see new interest from African-Americans across Ohio eager to learn about and join us in the Republican Party,” said Mack, who owns a consulting firm that raises money for candidates, and political and faith-based organizations.

Filing deadline: Friday is the filing deadline for those who ran in the May 7 primary. While most candidates received little to no campaign contributions, it will be interesting to see how much more John McNally IV raised and spent in comparison to Jamael Tito Brown in the Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor, won by McNally by only 142 votes.

The expectation is McNally, who had raised and spent considerably more money than Brown leading up to the primary, continued that trend in what is called the post-primary period, which is April 18 to June 7.

More than five years after he resigned in shame as the state’s attorney general, perhaps Marc Dann can return to a somewhat normal life.

Dann has no one to blame but himself for all the bad things that have happened to him: the forced resignation, the numerous investigations, an extramarital affair that resulted in his divorce, being convicted of two ethics misdemeanors, the suspension of his law license, and the humiliation he must feel from the poor decisions he made.

Dann, a Democrat formerly from Liberty, was elected in the 2006 Democratic wave, defeating highly-regarded Republican Betty Montgomery, then the state auditor and a former attorney general seeking to return to her previous job. Dann would later say he didn’t expect to win the race and thus wasn’t prepared to handle the job.

His choices for several of his key appointments were unbelievably poor, and it wasn’t as if they came as surprises. I, along with others, questioned a number of his hires when he made announcements about them between the time after he won the November 2006 election and the beginning of his term two months later.

Dann hired a friend and former newspaper editor to serve as chief of policy and administration, essentially his second in command on the nonlegal side. The friend, Edgar C. Simpson, was in way over his head.

Dann hired Anthony Gutierrez, a friend and neighbor who ran a construction company, to serve as his general services director. Worse than Gutierrez’s lack of experience for the job was his repeated improper behavior that went unchecked and was the origin of the investigation into Dann’s administration.

Dann appointed Leo Jennings III, another friend, as his communications director after Jennings successfully served as his campaign and communications director. Jennings was qualified for the job, but he was confrontational and a lightning rod for controversy.

All of them, including Dann and his then-wife Alyssa Lenhoff, were found guilty of ethics counts.

Dann resigned as attorney general in May 2008, just 17 months into a four-year term as a result of a sexual harassment scandal.

Dann was investigated by a number of state agencies with the Ohio Elections Commission deciding in 2009 that he and his former campaign treasurer improperly used $40,610 in campaign funds for a security system at his then house in Liberty.

A Franklin County Municipal Court judge found him guilty in 2010 of two misdemeanor ethics counts for filing a false financial disclosure form, and for providing improper compensation to state employees from his campaign and transition accounts that was used for an apartment Dann, Jennings and Gutierrez shared and other expenses.

Those convictions led the Ohio Supreme Court to suspend his law license on Nov. 20, 2012. The court reinstated it Tuesday.

If Dann hadn’t tried to “minimize his involvement,” as the high court’s disciplinary counsel described it, he likely wouldn’t have been suspended.

In the past few weeks, Dann’s prepared statements have shown some humility.

“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,” he wrote in a prepared statement after the law-license reinstatement.

The scandal and investigations will forever be Dann’s legacy. Perhaps what he calls his “rejoining the fight to protect the rights of hard-working people” can be a small part of that legacy too.

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