COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Former Republican Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro got beat up in the newspapers over the hiring and fees outside lawyers received when they landed juicy state contracts to represent government agencies. His Democratic successor, Marc Dann, promised reform. Today, it looks like Dann has taken a serious step to clean up the contracting process by seeking advice from three notable Republicans, including a retired U.S. judge who was put on the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan.
Dann has appointed a six-member advisory panel to develop "procedures for selecting outside counsel in order to insure transparency, accountability, and objectivity in the selection process." Deals with outside lawyers traditionally have been a source of patronage and fundraising cash for the attorney general's office. The state contracts also have been a lucrative source of income for lawyers, with big fees paid by the taxpayers of Ohio.
Bios of the six advisers are online. Perhaps the most surprising person to turn up on the list is former U.S. District Judge Albert I. Krenzler, who served in Cleveland. The late and legendary Republican Gov. Jim Rhodes put Krenzler on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 1968. Reagan gave him the federal appointment in 1981. Krenzler turned 71 in 1992 and quit, saying he wanted to "do something else, whether it will be to relax and play golf or ride my motorcycle or go back to work."