The best political scandals are always about sex, aren't they?
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann's career implosion is just the latest — and most local — example of an elected official getting caught with his pants down. The media and the public can't seem to get enough.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer crashed and burned a few months ago after being caught with strippers. Idaho Sen. Larry Craig tried to arrange a dalliance in an airport bathroom last year. President Clinton was impeached for lying about having sex with an intern. The list goes on and on.
Politicians broker in power, money and control, and some can't resist the temptation to extend that control to their personal sex lives. At least some men can't. You never hear women politicians getting caught in these scandals, do you?
Four key associates in Dann's office have left in recent days: General Services Director Anthony Gutierrez, Communications Director Leo Jennings III, Policy and Administration Chief Ed Simpson and Dann's former scheduler, Jessica Utovich. Some were fired, some quit.
The short version of the scandal is that Dann, Gutierrez and Jennings — all married men — shared a suburban Columbus condo where twentysomething female staffers allegedly partied with them on occasions. Utovich was known to spend the night there, and Dann has admitted to an extramarital affair with her.
Two female staffers filed sexual harassment charges against Gutierrez, who's also accused of driving department cars while drunk and bragging about his ties to the Mafia.
Over the weekend, Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and other top Ohio Democrats wrote a letter to Dann calling on him to resign or face impeachment. Dann brushed them off, telling his staff in an e-mail, "Our work is too important to do anything but our jobs today."
I give credit to Strickland and the state's top Democrats for stepping up and demanding that Dann resign. He's toast, and it's just a matter of time now before he's gone.
When the last set of scandals hit Columbus a few years ago, no one in the Republican Party threatened to impeach Treasurer Joe Deters or Gov. Bob Taft if they didn't resign. But they didn't get caught having sex with young staffers — they simply misused campaign funds or awarded favors to friends.
If you screw the taxpayers, it's no big deal. Screw the intern, and you're outta here.
It's like comparing Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. One president leads a growing economy and a successful foreign policy, and he's impeached for lying about sex. The other president lies to drag us into a horrendous war and spies on Americans in their homes, and he's not impeached.
I'm not excusing Clinton's behavior in office, and he deserved to be punished for lying to a grand jury. And Dann deserves to lose his job for running such a corrupt office.
It's just amazing to me sometimes what outrages people and what doesn't.
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