Real reason behind FitzGerald refusal

First Posted: 1/16/2015

Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic candidate who failed in his 2014 bid to become the state’s governor, refused during (and after) the campaign to release records that tracked when he entered and exited his Cuyahoga County office and parking garages.

This week, the former county executive’s successor, Armond Budish, made the right call by releasing — finally — the keycard records sought by the Ohio Republican Party and media outlets as part of a public records request last year. FitzGerald, a former FBI agent and prosecutor, declined to release the records because doing so could pose a security risk. He’d claimed being a target of death threats, some of which extended back to his days in law enforcement, though he declined to provide details at the time, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.

The Ohio Republican Party filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court demanding the records be released. Republican officials have called FitzGerald’s refusal a “charade,” while FitzGerald has called the lawsuit a “political tactic.” …

Whatever the case, the same security issues FitzGerald once claimed no longer exist. Budish, a Democrat, released the records for that very reason, heeding calls by several politicians and media outlets.

The records show that in his last 18 months in office FitzGerald only swiped his key card 53 times.

While we take the security of all public officials very seriously — and Ohio public records laws make such exceptions — we simply didn’t buy FitzGerald’s argument. Taxpayers deserve to know how much time the leaders they elect are spending on the job — even as technology has redefined the concepts of “work” and “workplace.” …

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