Former Ohio AG says he regrets bowing to NRA
A Democrat who helped overturn local assault weapons bans as a state lawmaker and before being ousted as Ohio’s attorney general said in a column published Sunday that he “was in the pocket of the National Rifle Association” to protect his political career, and now regrets it.
Marc Dann used his blunt admission on Cleveland.com to urge elected officials to live by their principles as the country debates gun control after the Florida school shooting Feb. 14 that killed 17 people.
“The NRA’s finely tuned propaganda operation, funded by the manufacturers of assault weapons used in mass shooting after mass shooting, convinced me and hundreds of officeholders and candidates that even talking about gun safety would end their political careers as quickly as a legally acquired AR-15 snuffed out lives last Valentine’s Day,” Dann wrote. “The threat worked.”
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker dismissed Dann’s statements as “a desperate attention-seeking ploy by a has-been politician.”
Dann said he made “a devil’s bargain” to adopt pro-gun positions that made him uncomfortable in order to stay in office and do the other work he viewed as important.
“I was re-elected to the state senate and won an upset victory to become Ohio’s attorney general in large part because the NRA and Buckeye Firearms had ‘educated’ pro-gun voters about my unwavering commitment to the Second Amendment,” he wrote. “I soon learned, however, that in making a deal with the devil to advance my political career, I had abandoned my principles and sold my soul.”
Dann, formerly of Liberty, represented Trumbull County in the state Senate from 2003 to 2006.
He was a largely obscure state senator appointed by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus to replace Tim Ryan, who had resigned in December 2002 to serve in Congress. But then a scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation hit, and Dann seized on the opportunity to expose what he called “pay-to-play” politics by Republicans who controlled most of state government.
Dann initially downplayed suggestions that he run for attorney general, but he agreed to run in 2006.
After easily winning the Democratic primary, Dann pulled an upset defeating Republican Betty Montgomery, then the state auditor and a former two-term attorney general. He was elected in November 2006 as attorney general, serving from January 2007 until his resignation in May 2008.