Sunday, May 26, 2013

A closer look at Ed FitzGerald's FBI career

Greater Clevelanders know Ed FitzGerald as the Cuyahoga County executive and former mayor of Lakewood.

But as he introduces himself to all Ohioans as a candidate for governor, FitzGerald gives at least equal billing to his past as an FBI special agent, a job he held for three years in the 1990s. When he invited supporters to his campaign kickoff last month, he emphasized his FBI past without even noting his current role as leader of the state's most populous county.

FitzGerald, a Democrat, clearly hopes a crime-fighting image can help carry him past Republican incumbent John Kasich next year. Though this is not the first time FitzGerald's FBI years have been a key talking point in his climb up the political ladder, specific details about his work at the Chicago field office have been scarce -- until now.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

The rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight: 30 minutes that ended a decade of nightmares

Written and reported with Harlan Spector

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Evenings like this are as good as it gets on Seymour Avenue.

Goldilocks temperatures are perfect for a bike ride or for sitting out on the porch with friends. Perhaps a neighbor will fire up the grill. The smell of barbecue and the beats of salsa music soon might trickle out on to this short side street in one of Cleveland's many working-poor communities. It's mid-spring. The sun won't fade for at least another couple of hours.

For a few moments, everything is pleasant. Then comes the horrifying cry for help.
What happens over the next half-hour becomes worldwide news. Neighbors and police officers free three missing women and a child from years of abuse. Police arrest the accused abductor a half-mile away at a fast-food restaurant.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ed FitzGerald accuses Gov. John Kasich of pay-to-play politics: PolitiFact Ohio

The 2014 race for governor is off to a punchy start.

PolitiFact Ohio told you Wednesday about the early attacks that Republican allies of incumbent John Kasich hope will stick against his likely Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald.

Essentially, the GOP has
seized on FitzGerald’s bystander status in the federal investigation of Cuyahoga County government and wrongly branded the first-term county executive as corrupt. It’s an attack that cuts directly at FitzGerald’s efforts to project a law-and-order image.

But FitzGerald is using similar rhetoric in his attempt to draw contrasts with Kasich.

"We need a governor who will stand up for middle-class families, for women’s rights and for good paying jobs," FitzGerald wrote last month when inviting supporters to his campaign kickoffs in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. "Ohioans want an end to pay-to-play politics, rampant cronyism and wasteful spending of our tax dollars on corporate donors and political perks."

Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, pointed to that statement this week as PolitiFact Ohio was evaluating his group’s claim that FitzGerald, the former mayor of Lakewood, represented a "brand of pay-to-play and corruption politics."

The he-started-it defense is not acceptable when dealing with dishonesty. The RGA statement earned a Pants On Fire rating on our Truth-O-Meter. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so PolitiFact Ohio today is taking a closer look at FitzGerald’s "pay-to-play" claim.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Republican Governors Association portrays Ed FitzGerald as a 'pay-to-play' politician: PolitiFact Ohio

Before officially declaring his candidacy for governor last week, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald spent months preparing for his run against Republican incumbent John Kasich.

Kasich’s allies have been preparing for FitzGerald nearly as long.

There is little doubt FitzGerald will trade heavily on his experience as an FBI agent and his reputation for turning the page on a corrupt chapter of county government. But the GOP prefers to focus on FitzGerald’s largely inconsequential mention as "Public Official 14" in the indictment of Jimmy Dimora, the county commissioner later convicted on racketeering and other charges.

Consider how the Republican Governors Association (RGA) welcomed FitzGerald to the race.
"After failing to recruit a more experienced candidate, Democrats are now stuck with Ed FitzGerald’s brand of pay-to-play and corruption politics," said Executive Director Phil Cox.
   
PolitiFact Ohio decided this was a good time to reexamine FitzGerald’s tangential connections to the widespread federal investigation of county corruption.
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