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In Columbus, Fitzgerald Outlines Plans for JobsOhio, Addresses GOP Complaint

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald, in Columbus today (photo by Andy Chow).
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald, in Columbus today (photo by Andy Chow).

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald has unveiled a list of changes he'd like to see at JobsOhio if he were to take office.

He says the private, non-profit job creation group should adopt these suggestions in order to be more transparent and efficient.

The Cuyahoga County executive called for sunshine law requirements… public audits… and revamped ethical standards… among other proposals.

Fitzgerald says the current JobsOhio system is not producing at a high level and believes implementing these changes will boost productivity.

"The truth is that when you have loans that make sense and grants that actually make sense, you're not secretive about them, you're happy to engage the public," said Fitzgerald.

"I also think that it would create an environment where more businesses would actually be comfortable participating in the process because they don't think it's a secretive process where you have to know the right person in order to get consideration."

The gubernatorial challenger would also implement performance standards to best measure JobsOhio's success.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Republican Party is filing a complaint with the state elections watchdog accusing Fitzgerald of violating campaign contribution laws. This has spurred Fitzgerald to call on a look back at donations received by Governor John Kasich.

The Northeast Ohio Media Group first revealed that FitzGerald… who's currently the Cuyahoga County executive… received a contribution of $1,000 from J.W. Sean Dorsey in April. The donation was made just a week after FitzGerald appointed Dorsey to a county improvement board.

Now the Ohio Republican Party is stepping in to file a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission… a state panel that oversees alleged campaign violations.

Party Chairman Matt Borges says it's a state issue because FitzGerald waited longer than 10 days to return the contribution. Fitzgerald was quoted by a news outlet saying bureaucracy was to blame for the mix-up… an excuse Borges doesn't buy.

"This is a gentleman who's holding himself out as a former assistant prosecutor. He knows ignorance of the law is not an excuse," says Borges. "He certainly knows-with the bizarre public statement that appeared this morning about blaming it on the bureaucracy of a campaign-is also no excuse."

Fitzgerald fired back saying he was interested to hear the Republican Party's position on the matter adding that he would like to see if Governor John Kasich has ever received a donation from an appointee.

Fitzgerald says accepting donations from an appointee is a violation of Cuyahoga County ethics, but not on the state level.

"You can exceed state standards if it's something that you feel strongly about if you feel like there's a moral and ethical issue then you should follow it. And they've been quite clear that they think that is an ethical issue. And so we'll have to see in the coming weeks whether or not that's something they're abiding by."

Fitzgerald says the only reason there may have been a delay in returning the money is because an independent inspector general had to review the campaign contributions.