Published July 21, 2008
Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann contends that by taking politics and cronyism out of the debt collections process, the office during his 14-month tenure recovered a record $344 million for various state agencies. The two individuals he put in charge of going after unpaid income and sales taxes and worker's compensation premiums were Rae Ann Estep and Marcia Macon-Bruce.
Estep had worked in the administration of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft; Macon-Bruce was in the attorney general's office when Republican of Jim Petro was in charge.
The emphasis on merit and professionalism thus begs the question, "Why was the no-cronyism rule not applied to members of Dann's inner circle?" Three of his top lieutenants were cronies in every sense of the word. Leo jennings III, Anthony Gutierrez and Ed Simpson had no real qualifications for the jobs for which they had been hired. But, they were friends from the Mahoning Valley.
Given all the details that have emerged about the operation of the attorney general's office under Dann since sexual harassment complaints were filed against Gutierrez, it would not be a stretch to conclude that Dann wanted enablers around him — rather than individuals he did not know on a personal level but who were highly qualified and professional.
It is clear that someone in Dann's inner circle should have been telling him "no" when he was carrying on an extramarital affair with his scheduler, Jessica Utovich. And it is also clear that as the state's chief lawyer he should not have been sharing a condo with two of his managers, Jennings and Gutierrez.
If only he had applied the standard he set for the debt collections process to the executive suite.
Thus, when Dann boasts about the record collections during his tenure, the reaction is, "So what? You were drummed out of office in shame."