Pundits often call the period before elections the “silly season”, as campaigns throw accusations back and forth like volleyballs.
Some might think the latest barbs in the top race this fall are an example of that. But as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, others take those claims more seriously.
Two men are wearing sandwich boards each showing a mock Cuyahoga County identification card with Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ed FitzGerald’s picture on the front and the word’s “What’s Ed Hiding” on the back. They’re standing with Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, in front of a podium in Cleveland. That’s FitzGerald’s home town and the place where he currently serves as the Cuyahoga County executive. Borges calls on FitzGerald to release records of his key card swipes into his Cuyahoga County workplace during the past year and threatens to sue at some point in the future if that doesn’t happen soon.
Borges – We are going to get these records one way or another. We will get them when he’s compelled to give them to us by a judge or we will get them when he does the right thing, if he does the right thing, and just turns them over.
At nearly the same time Borges was threatening a lawsuit in Cleveland, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern was telling reporters in Columbus there’s good reason why FitzGerald hasn’t turned over those records…..safety.
Redfern - The fact of the matter is the Cuyahoga County Sheriff has indicated and asked that these records not be released because there are outstanding threats to Ed FitzGerald and his family. And I take that law enforcement official, arguably one of the top law enforcement officials in that county, on face, on its face and don’t second guess him.
Redfern says the sheriff has indicated there have been eight credible death threats made on FitzGerald. But Borges doesn’t believe safety is the reason for the refusal to release these records.
Borges – Knowing when he was or wasn’t in the county building a year ago wouldn’t pose any threat to his safety and security now, especially when he gives the public information about where he’s going to be. I know where’s he’s going to be tonight. I know where he’s going to be tomorrow. He puts those records out all of the time.
Redfern says the judgment calls of what is safe to put out to the public rests on the person who is being threatened. And he says Governor John Kasich refuses to release schedule information the Democrats have requested, citing similar safety concerns. Redfern says he has some questions of his own when it comes to Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. He notes she has listed herself on ethics forms as being involved with her husband’s company, Welty Building….a company Redfern says has a troubled history.
Redfern – Welty has consistently failed to pay its bills, with over seven million dollars in mechanics liens being charged against Welty by numerous companies, many of those small and medium sized Mom and Pop shops that have gone to court to try to get paid.
The Chief Financial Officer of Welty, Jeffrey Floyd, says in a letter that disputes are part of the construction business and adds they are not aware of unresolved liens on any Welty projects in Ohio. Borges says Redfern is just using Welty as a distraction technique.
Borges - From what I’ve seen, Mary Taylor doesn’t have anything to do with this but I don’t have all of the details on that. I just know that its stuff they have been pushing for months. He wants to distract you and Ohioans from a very serious and important issue.
And Borges is hoping to distract people who go to FitzGerald’s events in another way. He says volunteers will be wearing those sandwich board i-d cards at FitzGerald’s upcoming scheduled appearances.