The campaigns of the major party candidates for governor are back at it – with two top ethical watchdogs as their targets. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports on the war of words over each candidate’s inspector general.
The Ohio Republican Party is pointing to a Northeast Ohio Media Group story reporting the inspector general in Cuyahoga County is reviewing campaign donations for County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who’s running against Republican Gov. John Kasich.
And ORP spokesman Chris Schrimpf says the campaign also ordered the county IG to omit from the report statements that he describes as “politically embarrassing.”
FitzGerald campaign spokesman Daniel McElhatton says the allegation about the report is patently false, and that the donation reviews are a double-check to ensure no one breaks a fairly new ethics law, either on purpose or unintentionally.
“That they would push the notion that higher ethical standards are a bad thing is pretty surprising," McElhatton said, "especially given the fact that their own inspector general is active in partisan politics."
McElhatton notes that the state IG has contributed to Kasich’s campaign – which is legal – but that FitzGerald backed a rule that prohibits donations to county officials from county employees.
But the ORP’s Chris Schrimpf says that’s not the issue.
“What they’re doing is trying to district attention from the fact that the inspector general of Cuyahoga County was doing this work on taxpayer time, and actually allowing the FitzGerald campaign to make changes to her report," Schrimpf said.
Schrimpf says FitzGerald has asked the county IG to review hundreds of donations, while Kasich’s campaign does that work for him.
But McElhatton points back to the state IG, who has yet to release a report on the so-called Coingate scandal involving Republican fundraiser Tom Noe that was started nine years ago, and who Democrats say should investigate the state’s plan to promote fracking by the agency that regulates it.