Monday, May 5, 2008

The Dark Side

Not long after I left The Joplin Globe to come to Emporia State as journalist-in-residence, my editor Ed Simpson also left. Simpson, who had been editor-in-chief of the small Missouri newspaper for eight years, had taken a job as chief of staff for newly-elected Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. Simpson wrote his farewell Globe column Dec. 31, 2006. Like all good newsmen, Ed has a well-developed sense of irony, and in that Parthian editorial shot he mused:

Going to the dark side is not an easy thing. I found it only mildly amusing when some newsroom wag immediately started a pool on when I would be indicted. Six months is the top slot so far, but at least one optimist chose eight months.

“Indicted or convicted?” I asked.

“Indicted,” the wag replied. “The odds on conviction are difficult to calculate.”

Indeed, it is ever so.

Indeed. Ed Simpson resigned recently, in the midst of an ever-widening sexual harassment investigation sparked by a series of stories in the Columbus Dispatch that has fellow Ohio Democrats clamoring for Dann's impeachment. The Associated Press today described "an atmosphere in Dann's office rife with inappropriate staff-subordinate relationships, heavy drinking and harassing and threatening behavior by a supervisor."

On Friday, Dann also admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate -- but stubbornly hangs onto the job.

Dann's wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, is director of the journalism program at Youngstown State University. Lenhoff won several awards for investigative reporting at the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio. Lenhoff's former partner at the Tribune, Ed Simpson, was Dann's chief of staff until he resigned under fire on May 2, 2008.

On Friday, an internal investigation confirmed most of the seedy details and more -- including heavy drinking among top aides and younger female staffers, profanity, inappropriate sexual activity, misuse of state vehicles and on-the-job threats involving the Mafia.

The above quote from Ed's last column was used by The Turner Report, a Joplin blog. Appropriately so. But there is more to Ed than