Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Ohio, held a defiant press conference Friday afternoon blaming his Republican opponent for a report he was found with a female friend in an industrial parking lot in the wee hours of the morning two years ago.
“It’s the cheapest shot that I have ever seen,” said FitzGerald, who has reportedly been married for 23 years. “I think it’s going to backfire. I think people are more disgusted by gutter tactics. … That’s the reason people hate politics, not I heard that one time that a police officer talked about him late at night and said nothing was going on.”
Hours before FitzGerald’s press conference, Northeast Ohio Media Group unearthed a police report on the 2012 incident, which included a witness calling in to report seeing FitzGerald and the woman and saying, “I don’t know if they’re having sex in the parking lot or what they’re doing here.”
Police subsequently found FitzGerald and a woman whom FitzGerald called his friend at 4:30 a.m. but did not report anything amiss.
FitzGerald accused incumbent Gov. John Kasich (R) of instigating the story and said he had evidence to prove it. After he heard Republicans made public records requests about him to the city of Westlake, FitzGerald said he did the same to find out who was inquiring about him. FitzGerald said he then discovered “strong evidence” the “very partisan Republican” mayor of Westlake, Dennis Clough, had been searching for “dirt” about him.
“Unfortunately for them they have left their fingerprints behind in the way that they tried to basically smear my reputation and spread this dirt,” FitzGerald said. “We do believe that this may have been a violation of Ohio law.”
Clough denied the allegations and told Business Insider he was simply responding to a public records request from the Republicans involved in pursuing the story about FitzGerald.
“We respond to a public records request like anybody else,” he said in a brief phone interview.
But FitzGerald’s accusations against Kasich weren’t constrained to the late-night parking lot incident. At the press conference, he also said the state Republican Party looked into his son’s minor traffic ticket while investigating him.
“That is as sleazy as anything that I’ve seen in Ohio politics. I wish I could tell you that they ended there but they didn’t,” FitzGerald continued. “The Ohio Republican Party also hired a law firm to ask for police records for my personal residence in Lakewood, Ohio, and one of the things that they uncovered in that situation was a traffic ticket that my 17-year-old son received for a cracked windshield.”
He challenged Kasich to disavow anyone who subjects underage children to negative scrutiny during a political campaign.
“John Kasich authorised this in my opinion,” he said. “If he didn’t authorise it he needs to come out and say he doesn’t condone this kind of thing. If he thinks it’s acceptable to get into the gutter like this, he needs to come out and say that.”
Kasich’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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