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The Geraldo-ing of Marc Dann's e-mails

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published April 22, 2008

I can't help but wonder how Geraldo Rivera would have handled the release of Attorney General Marc Dann's e-mails, and how much it would have resembled the made-for-TV opening of Al Capone's vault.

I remember watching that 1986 TV special with Geraldo breathlessly offering play-by-play of the opening of Capone's supposedly secret vault — with IRS guys and a medical examiner on scene just in case millions of dollars or millions of bones happened to be in a sealed room in the basement of Chicago's Lexington Hotel.

In the end, there was nothing, which was the case for Monday's release of Dann's e-mails.

I shouldn't say "nothing." There was stuff. There just wasn't the smoking gun journalists were prepped for after two weeks of coverage of the Columbus capers of Dann and the two valley guys he brought with him, Leo Jennings and Anthony Gutierrez.

The whole event has been strange, silly and stunning.

Dann has been the target all along — since he embarrassed the Republicans as a legislator, then won the AG's office. Upon the Democrats being swept into power last year, Dann was the first one projected to topple.

This was the forecast even before he started hiring his staff. His hiring decisions helped mere speculation inch closer to reality.

While hunting for Dann, what foes bumped into was Gutierrez tanking it up with women nearly half his age, allegedly pressuring them for payback sex, and smashing an AG vehicle. They got pizza parties at the condo with woozy staffers and unbuttoned pants. And they found Jennings doing something no official can describe – yet. The debacle will leave Gutierrez and Jennings jobless, if you believe the chatter.

And it leaves a dodging Dann — live and in technicolor — doing the political dance of his life. 

In the two weeks this affair has gone on, the chatter and rumors have been nonstop. Most days, it's centered on Dann and what his e-mails may or may not show once they’re released. He was going to resign; he wasn't going to resign; they had sex; they were just flirting; he's confident; he's despondent; it's up to his wife; it's his call.

When Dann wasn't the news, updates arrived about questionable incidents and records of Gutierrez, Jennings and other AG hires.

And this went on for 10 days or so. It built up to last Friday’s planned release of Dann's e-mails by his own office staff. An early Friday release became a late Friday release. Then it was to be a Saturday release. It was then moved to Monday. All day Monday went into Monday evening. Then there were so many e-mails, it needed to be on three CDs instead of the planned two.

All of this ...

And we basically got three months worth of sophomoric e-mails between the lead law enforcement officer in Ohio and his tempermental aide who barks at Dann like Flo barked at Mel on "Mel's Diner."

It wasn't sexy. It was stupid. Dann should be embarrassed for his excessive high-school like exchanges with a staffer. He should have equal embarrassment for his hirings. He arrogantly pledged to manage the office like never before, then hired the very people who could turn a pizza party into a political problem.

And the whole two-week soap opera-like drama only leaves you to wait for what's next. It's like Ohio's version of "Speed" with Dann a more robust Keanu Reeves and a climax that just leads to yet another climax.

There will be more this week or next.

An investigation is wrapping up of the harassment allegations against Gutierrez that started this mess. From that, we will finally learn the fate of Gutierrez and Jennings. We're also told Dann will have a press conference to address all of this after two weeks of "no comments."

I don't think the last scene has been written, yet. And it likely won't be for awhile.

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