COLUMBUS, Ohio – Facing possible impeachment, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has resigned amid the scandal of a sexual harassment investigation in his office and his extramarital affair.
Dann, 46 and a Democrat, led the state on a 10-day odyssey, at first refusing to resign despite demands by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and others within his party, a growing number of investigations into conduct at his office, and the filing Tuesday of articles of impeachment against him.
Dann, appearing beside Strickland, said it was necessary to leave to preserve the ability of the office to carry out the priorities he established.
"It is now clear to me that the only way to protect these priorities for the office of attorney general and for the people of Ohio is to remove myself from the situation," he said. "This will preserve the great work being done by the office of attorney general."
Dann said he was leaving the news conference to join his wife and children at home.
"It is now my highest priority to focus on my family," Dann said.
Dann admitted May 2 to an extramarital affair with an employee that he said contributed to an atmosphere leading to sexual harassment claims against a top aide. Three aides were forced out in the harassment investigation, which showed managers encouraged a casual work environment with frequent profanity and inappropriate interactions with subordinates.
Strickland, who led the call for Dann to resign or be impeached, didn't name a replacement but said he would immediately begin reviewing possible successors.
"Maturity," Strickland said without hesitation, asked what qualities he would look for in a new attorney general.
"We need someone who can provide confidence to the many, many employees of the attorney general's office," Strickland said.
He said an investigation of the attorney's general office under Dann by state watchdog Tom Charles will continue.
Dann spoke for less than three minutes and left Strickland's ceremonial Statehouse room without taking questions.
Strickland said Dann did the honorable thing by stepping down.
"This decision will allow the important work of the attorney general's office to continue without the distraction caused by recent events," Strickland said.
Strickland called it a sad day and said Dann accomplished many things in his relatively short time in office.
"It is appropriate for us all to acknowledge the personal pain and anguish that these events have caused the attorney general, his family members, his staff and others," Strickland said.
Under law, first assistant attorney general Tom Winters will assume the responsibilities of attorney general until Strickland names a permanent replacement.
Among those mentioned as possible successors are Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, higher education chancellor Eric Fingerhut and state Treasurer Richard Cordray.