Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Democrats hoping to salvage 2014 are looking past Ed FitzGerald and down the statewide ballot

Publicly, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald soldiers on and tells us he has not given up on his bid to unseat Gov. John Kasich.

Behind the scenes, though, key Democratic insiders and allies have all but written FitzGerald off while looking down-ticket for a consolation prize, three sources close to the party and the campaign have told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

These sources and others – a collection of political operatives and advisers – spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid open sniping that could hurt the Democrats even more this fall.
Most agree that FitzGerald's mess is largely of his own making and that Monday's staff exodus stems from pronounced disappointments and disagreements that emerged in recent weeks amid a torrent of damaging revelations and negative publicity.

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More coverage: 8 decisions that will haunt Ed FitzGerald

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Under Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County had disciplined employees for lapsed driver's licenses

Reported and written with Andrew J. Tobias

As Cuyahoga County executive, Ed FitzGerald has disciplined employees for not holding a valid driver's license – something the former FBI agent and Democratic candidate for governor himself lacked for years.

In 2013 his administration punished at least eight employees, with penalties ranging from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension without pay, according to documents the Northeast Ohio Media Group obtained through a public-records request. (scroll down to view the records)

The county's inspector general first began reviewing potential violations of the county's driving policies last year, months after FitzGerald obtained his first permanent driver's license in more than a decade. More than 150 other driving-related infractions involving other county employees remain under investigation and could yet result in discipline.

FitzGerald's own license lapse came to light this month, after NEOMG reported that police in suburban Westlake found him parked in car with a woman who was not his wife at 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2012. FitzGerald was not cited, and he and police maintain nothing inappropriate happened. But the county executive had a learner's permit, meaning he could drive only with a licensed driver 21 or older. He has acknowledged driving home alone after dropping the woman at a hotel.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Ed FitzGerald, 4:30 a.m. and the woman not his wife

Ed FitzGerald's bid for governor took a tumble Friday, as potentially damaging revelations pulled him from the campaign trail and forced him to defend himself while accusing Gov. John Kasich of masterminding a scheme to smear the Democratic challenger.

The Cuyahoga County executive said he and Joanne Grehan, whom he identified as a friend visiting with an Ireland delegation, had not done anything inappropriate when Westlake police confronted them at 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2012.

Officers had responded to a call about a suspicious car at an industrial complex. FitzGerald, who said he and Grehan were trying to locate a half-dozen lost friends, was not charged with a crime. One of FitzGerald's top aides, who was driving the other friends, later said they never got lost.

The police recordings and a brief report obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group disrupted FitzGerald's planned day of politicking and threw yet another hurdle at his underdog bid. The former FBI agent postponed two events after learning that a story about the incident was about to be published.

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Original story: Call about suspicious car led Westlake police to Ed FitzGerald and an unidentified woman in 2012

More coverage: FitzGerald aide says Irish delegation was delayed, not lost on night of Westlake incident | What we know -- and what we don't -- about FitzGerald's 4:30 a.m. encounter