Will Dann Be Impeached?

Officials from his own party have threatened to impeach embattled Ohio AG Marc "Dannimal House" Dann, but Dann is hanging on (for now). While there's no schedule for impeachment proceedings at the moment, this Saturday the state Democratic Party will vote on rescinding its 2006 endorsement of Dann for AG. Such a vote would change Dann's affiliation from "Democrat" to "Independent elected as a Democrat."

If the legislature follows through on the impeachment, Dann could be the first statewide Ohio elected official ever to be impeached and removed. The Plain Dealer is listing potential replacements.

What about...:
As much as I think Dann should resign to for the good of the state, party, etc., I don't buy any of this talk of impeachment for one simple reason: impeachment for WHAT?

So far all we've seen in the press is that he had an extramarital affair (not a crime), engaged in cronyism (not a crime (though sometimes I wish it was)), and made poor hiring and management decisions (not a crime). This is eerily similar to calls for impeaching former President Clinton over his "sexual relations" with an intern. At least then there was a "crime" of perjury on which to base the impeachment. Where is that piece here?
5.6.2008 10:02am
Brad Catlin:
Article II, Section 24 of the Ohio Constitution states that someone can "be impeached for any misdemeanor in office," but doesn't define exactly what that means. However, I'm not sure that it matters whether "misdemeanor" means crime.

As the United States Supreme Court stated in Nixon v. United States, impeachment is, at its heart, a political decision which has been left to the political branches. If the two major political parties are united in their desire to oust an elected official from office, then I'm not sure that the officer will have any legal argument they can make against this. Mark Dann's only argument would be a political one, but it doesn't look like he has a political base from which to make that argument.
5.6.2008 10:36am
ohio resident (mail):
Um, there was something about a drunk young girl at the property he shared with his two friends and subordinates.

I don't think the last shoe has fallen yet.
5.6.2008 10:36am
Kevin Newsom (mail):
When I was Alabama's SG, my counterpart in Ohio was Doug Cole. He's a former Easterbrook clerk and Ohio State law professor -- currently a partner at Jones Day (Columbus). Doug is a very talented lawyer (he has argued a handful of cases in the Supreme Court) and, as it turns out, a very good guy, too. If he could be convinced to run, he'd be a terrific choice in November.
5.6.2008 10:39am
John (mail):
What seems odd is that the reason people gave for him holding on was that if he lasted until September then his replacement could serve out the full term until 2010. But if he quit now, his replacement would face an election in the fall.

Now that the Democrats appear not to care about the latter--i.e., they want him to go now--why is he staying?
5.6.2008 11:27am
He's from Youngstown, for Pete's sake. Of COURSE he's committed impeachable offenses.
5.6.2008 12:27pm
Wow, this guy is giving politicians a bad name!
5.6.2008 12:35pm
Zeno (www):
Does one need a cause for impeachment in this case? It's not like a trial with evidence presented, just a vote yes or no - or am I on the wrong track?

Yet I think he should probably resign for a few reasons - he gives his party a bad name, hurts their chances in the region, and will be so bogged down in clearing himself that he won't be able to do his job.

RE: Brad Catlin - shouldn't 'misdemeanor' mean what it does in a criminal/legal context? If so, can Dann be impeached?
5.6.2008 2:30pm
Lucius Cornelius:
From what I hear around the Rhodes State Office Tower, there are many more irregularities involving Dann and the AG's office. The Democrats would probably like him to leave quickly so that a full investigation does not take place.

But the Republicans are going to be cautious now. They will probably insist on an independent investigation. They will also probably be very careful in adopting procedures for conducting the impeachment in the House and the trial in the Senate. Of course, this could allow Dann to stay in office (and keep the story on the front pages of the newspapers) for several more months. I would guess that the final vote for impeachment may not take place until early September.

This is a disaster for the Dems and if it goes on until September it could very well demoralize their supporters and suppress turnout in the November election. I think this will be going through the Rep leaders minds when they determine the procedures and schedule the process. The Reps are going to play this for all they can. It is an irony that Dann was one of the most aggressive of the Dems to go after former Governor Bob Taft and his scandals.

I suppose someone could make a motion in the Ohio house, then schedule a quick vote in the Senate to remove Dann. It appears that impeachment is a political act and not a judicial one. I think that an office holder should be subject to impeachment for gross incompetence, dereliction of duty, and other non-criminal wrongs. But the process has to be fair so that the accused has a chance to defend himself.

Looks like it may be a fun summer in Columbus and I have a front row seat!
5.6.2008 7:20pm
Brad Catlin:

I wasn't commenting on whether "misdemeanor" should mean "crime" and, to be honest, I haven't completely made up my mind on that issue. The point that I was making is that such a decision is, at its heart, a political and not a legal decision. Thus, if a sufficient number of the relevant political actors believe that they should remove Dann from office, then he will be removed since they are free to say that "misdemeanor" does not mean "crime."
5.7.2008 11:27am