Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald canceled two planned appearances and hastily scheduled a press conference Friday after the Cleveland.com reported on a 2012 incident in which he was found by police with a woman who was not his wife in a parked car at 4:30 in the morning.
An electrician who had been working after hours called police because he thought something was wrong.
“I don’t know if they’re having sex in the parking lot or what they’re doing here,” the witness said, according to audio obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The current Democratic nominee was not charged with a crime.
According to FitzGerald on Friday, nothing inappropriate was going on. He said it was just him with a friend who was visiting from Ireland. Identified as Joanne Grehan, FitzGerald said the woman was part of a delegation that he and other people had been entertaining the evening before.
FitzGerald and Grehan were found on Oct. 13, 2012 early in the morning in a red Ford that was registered to FitzGerald. The witness said the two were there for about half an hour, according to Cleveland.com.
Grehan, in conjunction with another member of the delegation, Peter Hynes, explained the October 2012 incident as an innocent stop to map the car to its destination. “After being separated from their party, Joanne and Ed stopped the car to map the actual route to the hotel. The vehicle was approached by a police patrol car which stopped, checked that all was in order and then left. Ed and Joanne then continued on to the hotel where Ed dropped her off,” the statement from them released on Friday read.
In a statement on Friday, FitzGerald said described the news as personal attacks against him and his family.
“We are extremely disappointed at the personal attacks being levied against our family. And equally upset that our friends in Ireland are being unjustly dragged into this negative campaign,” FitzGerald and wife Shannon said in a statement on Friday. “We are confident that this attack will be exposed for what it is — untrue and opportunistic — and, hope that we can quickly move onto the the discussion of what is best for Ohio’s families. We’re extremely proud of our family, and the support system we’ve provided to one another for the last 23 years. No matter what happens in this campaign or in November, that will never change.”
Hynes and Grehan said in their statement that they were surprised the “innocuous incident” was being portrayed as “something completely different.”
“We are outraged and disgusted to find our names being drawn into what is clearly a controversy fabricated with political motivation and we confirm that there is absolutely no basis for the unfounded speculation and nasty innuendo which surrounds reporting of this incident,” they said.
FitzGerald, at the press conference on Friday, said that the Republican Governors Association and the Ohio Republican Party were connected to release of the news. FitzGerald said “John Kasich authorized this in my opinion” and if he didn’t, he should say he doesn’t condone the focus on this.
FitzGerald is challenging Republican Gov. John Kasich. The TPM Polltracker average gives Kasich an 8.3 point lead over FitzGerald.
You can read the service call report here.
This post was updated.