Ohio governor candidate Ed Fitzgerald, a Democrat, has denied he was having an affair with an Irish woman after police found them in a car in a parking lot late at night.
A police report has surfaced showing that Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Executive and the Democratic party's nominee for Governor of Ohio, FitzGerald, was found in a parked car at 4:30 am on October 13, 2012 in the company of an Irish woman who was not his wife. Police officers were responding to a phone call about a “suspicious” car.
Speaking to Cleveland.com on Friday, Fitzgerald, who was not charged with a crime, said that nothing inappropriate happened in the car and that the woman, who has since been identified as Joanne Grehan, was a friend visiting from Ireland as part of a larger delegation he and others had entertained the evening before.
An electrician working late hours saw the parked car in 2012 and called the police.
"I don't know if they're having sex in the parking lot or what they're doing here," said the witness in a recording of his call to the police.
"I don't know if they don't notice all my lights inside and they're just [inaudible] something, 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," the witness added. "And I know the owner here wouldn't really want this here."
Police responded to the call in 10 minutes and found the couple in a red Ford registered to FitzGerald parked at an industrial complex on Clemens Road.
"Hey, this is a county guy," an officer said in a call back to the police station, according to police communications released to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. "He had a part of a delegation from Ireland with him."
The officer did not mention FitzGerald by name, saying only that the man "was just taking them back to the hotel, he was stopping and talking." When the dispatcher asked the sex of the other person in the vehicle, the officer responded, "Female.”
The woman’s name was not disclosed in the recordings or documents. A police spokesman said a full incident report did not exist because it was determined that no crime had been committed.
FitzGerald has said he was one of one of two local designated drivers for the Ireland group. While there were "about another half-dozen" in the other car, but the woman was his only passenger. According to FitzGerald, the cars became separated from each other, so he and his female passenger pulled over while they "were trying to connect with the other group."
"There was absolutely nothing – nothing –inappropriate going on," said FitzGerald. "Absolutely nothing. Was it late? Yes, it was late. That's it. The people that we were with are friends of my family. They were at my house before this and after. They were at breakfast. They came over for breakfast the next day. There's nothing salacious going on about this at all."
FitzGerald, 46, has been married to his wife Shannon for nearly 23 years. They have four children together. The Irish Catholic FitzGerald has worked to build relationships between his Ohio county and Ireland, having visited the country at least twice since taking office.
FitzGerald, who often conveys a squeaky-clean image and has stressed that he has not lived a “life full of controversy,” blamed Republican officials for attracting attention to the police report.
In a press conference on Friday, the former FBI agent accused Republicans of "a personal attack which is as low as it gets."
FitzGerald, who faces Republican Gov John Kasich this fall, blamed his opponent for trying to dig for “dirt” in his background. His campaign produced emails showing that the Republican Governors Association had made a public records request for the record, reports Cincinnati.com.
"This garbage that these guys are trying to pull is going to backfire on them," FitzGerald said. "This is as sleazy as anything I've seen."
Spokespersons for the Republican Governors Association and for the Kasich campaign have both declined to comment.
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