Blog: GOP tags FitzGerald with 'county corruption'

11:00 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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Only three days after Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible run for governor against Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014, the Ohio Republican Party played the "Cuyahoga County corruption" card against him.

It just goes to show that in politics, you always try to take out your possible opponents before they are even declared candidates. Now, FitzGerald has been hinting at a run for months so this exploratory committee was no real surprise.

And FitzGerald isn't the only Democrat who may run.

The late February Quinnipiac University Poll released Feb. 28 showed Kasich's job approval at an all-time high 53 - 32 percent, the first time in two years that he tops 50 percent.

In an early look at the 2014 reelection race, Kasich holds 6-point to 10-point leads against each of the four potential contenders for the Democratic nomination to run against him:

  • 45 - 35 percent over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald
  • 44 - 38 percent over U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray
  • 44 - 36 percent over U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; and
  • 45 - 38 percent over former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton

That being said, it's always smart politics to go after the frontrunner from the very start.

Now, as far as what the "corruption card" was, it was nothing everyone hadn't heard or read about before. But "before" was September 2010, so I guess it was meant to be a "refresher course."

The Ohio GOP even posted a new website --

See, the website points out that FitzGerald was mentioned in the Sept. 14, 2010, 138-page indictment of then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

He was mentioned then as "Public Official 14" and, one day later, FitzGerald, then the mayor of Lakewood, confirmed to WKYC-TV that he, in fact, was PO 14.

On March 9, 2012, Dimora was found guilty of 32 conspiracy, bribery and other corruption-related counts and, on July 31, 2012, was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

He is among 50 others who were found guilty or pleaded guilty so far in the widespread Cuyahoga County corruption scandal that first went public on July 28, 2008.

Neiheiser, now 64, of Gates Mills, was sentenced July 20, 2011 to 37 months in federal prison for bribing Dimora and is scheduled for release this August.

But I digress a bit.

FitzGerald was mentioned on page 94 of the indictment in a phone call Dimora made to him regarding developer Bill Neiheiser and the city-owned Lakewood ice rink.

That indictment has either sat on my desk in the newsroom or gone with me daily during the two and a half months I covered Dimora's trial in federal court in Akron January-March last year. 

FitzGerald was never mentioned again in any other indictments. FitzGerald is now the Cuyahoga County Executive after voters changed the county government from a three-commissioner to a county executive and county council form of government and elected him in November 2010. 

So the Ohio GOP says in its Thursday press release that "Ohioans have a right to know exactly what went on in Ed FitzGerald's shadowy past," said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett.

OK, as an independent, I have no dog in this hunt and will vote on Nov. 4, 2014 for my own personal choice for governor. And we still don't know if there will be a Democratic primary in 2014. We do know Kasich is running for reelection.

We will see how this all plays out. But a word of advice for the Ohio GOP, as evidenced in the second paragraph of their press release about the website -- Dimora is spelled with a small "m," not DiMora.

It's a small thing but instantly noticeable to a Cuyahoga resident like me.

Enjoy your weekend and have a safe St. Patrick's Day.


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