FitzGerald cancels campaign stops after 2-year-old 911 'suspicious behavior' call surfaces
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive, canceled two campaign events for today and called a press conference for 2:30 this afternoon.
FitzGerald, along with Jay McDonald, the president of the Fraternal Police of Ohio, spoke during the afternoon press conference in Columbus
Listen to the 911 call:
He tolds WKYC's Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres that he would share emails at the press conference that showed Republican Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough's role in dealing with and helping get the word out now about an incident that took place nearly two years ago.
Clough tells Beres that "No, I did not plant this story...it's completely and utterly false. The truth of it is, I wasn't aware that he had been stopped until a year and a half after it happened...public records have a way of becoming public."
Clough said he became aware of a complaint that a public records request concerning the incident was not being promptly fulfilled.
Clough said, "As far as I know, he (FitzGerald) and I have had a decent working relationship..." during his terms as Lakewood mayor and county executive.
The press conference was to discuss a Westlake police record from 2012 that said police happened upon him and a woman that wasn't his wife in a car in an otherwise a vacant parking lot at about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 13, 2012.
At the press conference, FitzGerald said that it is "...not a coincidence that Mr. Kasich and his team have chosen this moment…when I am coalescing my support across the state….." to bring this out.
FitzGerald said Kasich's team wasn't going to let him go through the campaign without some tactic.
The incident? "...a police officer talked to the passenger and myself…..it did not even result in a traffic ticket…that was it…the officer said there was nothing to be concerned about…I do not think this is particularly salacious…"
Fitzgerald said "this was a group of people….not just two people….this is a pretty unwarranted and cheap attack by Gov. Kasich's team…."
Fitzgerald released a statement from members of an Irish delegation calling a situation with a female delegate and the candidate an 'innocuous incident.' The statement says FitzGerald was driving delegate Joanne Grehan back to her hotel in 2012 at the delegation's request when they got separated from others and stopped to map the route.
Grehan and another delegate call the controversy politically motivated and say there's no basis for unfounded speculation and innuendo.
FitzGerald said that the way that the Republican Party has been intimately involved…I have heard that they were on an expedition for more than a year and this is what they got…..they have left their fingerprints behind…we learned that in May of this year, the Republican Governors Association was making public records requests to the Westlake police Department…so we made our own public records requests……the emails started about May 20 of this year…on June 10, there's an email from a captain in the Westlake police to the former police chief of Westlake……:
FitzGerald said that, "In my opinion, the City of Westlake, on city time and with city resources, is looking for dirt on me…they were using an official position to obtain information…we believe this is a violation of Ohio law….we have made public records requests for all public requests, emails, made by Republicans on several levels…if we get enough evidence, we will prosecute them for theft in office…"
Fitzgerald added that "...that is as sleazy as anything that I've seen in politics….I am not just going to sit here and take this…in my opinion, I think John Kasich authorized this….if he didn't, he needs to come out and say that he didn't....what they're (Republicans) willing to do to stay in office was revealed on this day."
Reached late Friday, Kasich campaign spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp said "We don't have anything to say on this."
"Matt Borges has other reasons why he shouldn't be the head of the Ohio Republican Party…he was convicted of corruption…" FitzGerald said.
(Borges was embroiled in a pay-to-play scandal in 2004. He pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to a misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a public office for giving preferential treatment to certain brokers who contributed to Republican Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters' re-election campaign. He paid a $1,000 fine. He later cleared his misdemeanor record when he was granted an expungement.)
Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said, "I talked to the officer that was there that night and he said there was nothing inappropriate going on that night…"
According to the report, FitzGerald, 46, a former FBI agent and the former mayor of Lakewood, was not charged with any crime. Fitzgerald said he and his wife have been married for 23 years and they have four children.
The witness that called in the report said the Ford Escape was in a vacant industrial complex parking lot. The witness said he was working in one of the units in the industrial complex.
Here is the log report:
According to the 911 call, FitzGerald was reportedly in a red Ford Escape registered to him, according to the Westlake Police Department report.
Follow WKYC's Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres on Twitter: @TomBeres