Ohio Governor Names Law Professor as Temporary Attorney General

May 29, 2008

Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland on May 28 (Wednesday) tapped the dean of the Ohio State University law school to serve temporarily as attorney general after a sexual harassment scandal forced out the previous attorney general.

Strickland says Nancy Hardin Rogers will lead the office for about six months but that she has no plans to run in the November election.

Strickland’s announcement means he must still select a candidate to run for the remaining two years left in the term of former Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann.

Dann resigned earlier this month after leading an office that was rocked by sexual harassment complaints, marks of unprofessionalism and his own affair with a subordinate. The resignation has given Republicans an opening for the statewide seat.

“She will bring to that office as quickly as any human being can possibly do so a sense of confidence, orderliness and leadership,” Strickland said.

The governor called her a person of great accomplishment widely admired by her peers and an expert in the field of dispute resolution.

Strickland said he felt it was better to have Rogers take control of the office and clean up its problems rather than whoever is chosen to run as a permanent replacement.

“It was important that we not have the individual who was trying to deal with the immediate problems facing the attorney general’s office to be immediately engaged in a political campaign,” the governor said.

Rogers said she hoped to restore values to the office.

“It’s a shame that the actions of a limited number of persons who did not live up to these values have undermined the public confidence in this office,” she said. “It has led some to doubt that the attorney general still carries the moral authority that is needed to serve the people of Ohio. The situation must be turned around quickly.”

Rogers became dean of the law school in August 2001 after serving for two years as a vice provost for academic administration at Ohio State. She is the immediate past president of the Association of American Law Schools.

Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1969 and her law degree from Yale University in 1972.

Dann, a Democrat, resigned earlier this month in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in his office and admissions that he had an affair with an employee, hired unqualified friends and felt unprepared to run the giant state agency. The governor has the constitutional role of replacing him.

Revelations that an aide to Dann, with whom the attorney general shared an apartment, was accused with sexually harassing two junior staffers rocked the office and ultimately brought down Dann, who aggressively pursued legal action against mortgage companies and charter schools.

Dann’s early departure gives Republicans an unlikely opportunity to regain a statewide seat they had lost in 2006 in the wake of a corruption scandal that reached as high as former Gov. Bob Taft. Ironically, it was Dann who railed against Republicans as a state senator and then campaigned on an anti-corruption platform to unexpectedly win the seat over a better-known opponent.

Dann would not have faced re-election until 2010. Republicans now hope to turn Dann’s scandal against Democrats in a year that otherwise presents a tough political climate for the party.

Since Dann’s May 14 resignation, the office has been run by First Assistant Attorney General Tom Winters. Dann left a 17-month stint in office marked by aggressive legal action against big name Wall Street players such as Standard & Poor, as well as charter schools, mortgage lenders and insurance giant Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. Dann sometimes made searing public statements about those he pursued litigation against, at one point saying mortgage lenders had shown a crass disregard for homeowners

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