FitzGerald: 'Nothing inappropriate' in 2012 incident

By MARC KOVAC record-courier Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGerald said there was nothing improper going on between him and a woman who was not his wife as they sat alone in a car early one morning in a suburban Cleveland parking lot two years ago.

The Cuyahoga County executive said the woman was part of a delegation from Ireland that was visiting the city, and the two stopped to check directions after they were separated from another vehicle headed toward an area hotel following a night of festivities.

"I was with a whole group of people originally," FitzGerald said. "We divided up because people needed rides home, and I was a designated driver, and so I took somebody home and it was late at night."

FitzGerald also blasted Republicans for digging up the information, and he left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges if elected officials did so during work hours.

"I'm not going to just sit here and take it," he said.

FitzGerald offered the explanation Friday during a press conference in Columbus, where he was supposed to focus on an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

Instead, most of the questions from reporters focused on the 2012 incident, which was first reported by the Northeast Ohio Media Group earlier in the afternoon.

In an audio recording by Westlake police and posted by media group, a witness describes the parked car, saying, "I don't know if they're having sex in a parking lot or what they're doing... but all I keep seeing is like something going back and forth and I'm like, eh, you know what, this is a little fishy."

An officer who arrived at the scene said nothing illegal had occurred, and FitzGerald was not cited for any violations.

"It didn't even amount to a situation that resulted in a traffic ticket," FitzGerald said. "Not even a minor traffic ticket... I don't consider that to be particularly newsworthy or salacious, but I'm sure there will be people that try to construe it that way."

He added, "There's no indication of anything -- anything -- that was inappropriate going on, because there wasn't."

The FitzGerald campaign released a joint statement from the woman who was in the car, Joanne Grehan, and Peter Hyne, two members of the Irish delegation visiting the Cleveland area. FitzGerald said he considers members of the group friends who come from the same part of Ireland as his ancestors.

Grehan and Hyne said they were "deeply shocked and extremely saddened" about how the incident was being construed.

They added, "We are outraged and disgusted to find our names being drawn into what is clearly a controversy fabricated with political motivation and we confirm that there is absolutely no basis for the unfounded speculation and nasty innuendo which surrounds reporting of this incident."

FitzGerald blamed Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Republican Party and other GOP'ers for trying to dig up dirt about himself and his family. He said he would pursue criminal charges against elected officials who did so on public time.

"You are not allowed in the state of Ohio to use city resources or any government resources for a personal or a political purpose," he said, adding, "We do believe that this may be a violation of Ohio law."

A spokeswoman for the Kasich campaign declined comment Friday afternoon.

The Ohio Republican Party did not respond to requests for a statement late Friday afternoon.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • How is it that 2 male, married politicians, in a group of partiers, end up alone, late at night/early morning, in a vehicle, with a woman that is not their wife? And they both say nothing inappropriate was going on?

    RIGHT

    From above:...Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGerald said there was nothing improper going on between him and a woman who was not his wife as they sat alone in a car early one morning in a suburban Cleveland parking lot two years ago.

    "I was with a whole group of people originally," FitzGerald said. "We divided up because people needed rides home, and I was a designated driver, and so I took somebody home and it was late at night."

    Excerpts from:...Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick Speech, July 1969

    My fellow citizens:

    I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening.

    This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been improper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me.

    On the weekend of July 18, I was on Martha's Vineyard Island participating with my nephew, Joe Kennedy -- as for thirty years my family has participated -- in the annual Edgartown Sailing Regatta. Only reasons of health prevented my wife from accompanying me.

    On Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha's Vineyard, I attended, on Friday evening, July 18, a cook-out, I had encouraged and helped sponsor for devoted group of Kennedy campaign secretaries. When I left the party, around 11:15 P.M., I was accompanied by one of these girls, Miss Mary Jo Kopechne.......

    There is no truth, no truth whatever, to the widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct that have been leveled at my behavior and hers regarding that evening. There has never been a private relationship between us of any kind. I know of nothing in Mary Jo's conduct on that or nay other occasion -- the same is true of the other girls at that party -- that would lend any substance to such ugly speculation about their character. Nor was I driving under the influence of liquor.

    RIGHT

  • We should all care about unsubstantiated stories and rumors being published. Maybe there is a reason NOMG has ex-PD staff, hmmm?

  • I wondered if there was any traction to Ed FitzGerald's claim that the source of this indecent rumor was the Republican's. That would explain a lot because it seems pretty weak, even for a political shot. So I checked the original source (mentioned in the article above) identified as the "Northeast Ohio Media Group." It turns out that NOMG is a spin-off from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, with mostly ex-Plain Dealer staff, especially in the Editorial Dept. Now you may not be aware of this (just joking) but the Plain Dealer is a very liberal news source in the same category as the NY Times and the Washington Post. So now that tells me that maybe there is something to the rumor if the news-source is NOT an enemy, as claimed. But I suspect it's still an indecent rumor, without truth, but lots of suspicious looking details. This is what reporters do; look for deceit, especially if it will help sell Newspapers. Even if it's true, who cares! That's between him and his family, and the two other people from Ireland.

    Now if the rumor stated they all had too much beer, I would probably buy into that. But again, who cares!