Created on Saturday, 16 August 2014 Written by MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, while mayor of a Cleveland suburb, put gas into city vehicles 37 times despite not having a valid driver's license or a temporary driving permit, records show.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald speaks to reporters on Friday, Aug. 1 in Columbus. Casting himself as a victim of a political attack, FitzGerald sought to explain police records from 2012 showing him alone in a vehicle with a woman not his wife. Records also show the former assistant prosecutor for Cuyahoga County fueled county vehicles without a valid driver's license.(AP Photo/Ann Sanner)
FitzGerald was mayor of Lakewood from January 2008 until December 2010, when he took office as Cuyahoga County executive. The former FBI agent and assistant county prosecutor lacked a driver's license for more than 10 years between February 2002 and November 2012 and had only a temporary learner's permit for some of the period between March 2008 and November 2012.
Records show that FitzGerald was paid $46 for mileage by Lakewood in early 2008, when he did not have a license or temporary permit. A temporary permit allows someone to drive only if there is a sober, licensed driver 21 years or older in the passenger seat.
FitzGerald has apologized for his failure to obtain a license. On Friday, his spokesman acknowledged that FitzGerald occasionally drove county-owned cars by himself despite not have a license during most of his first two years as executive. Spokesman Richard Luchette said FitzGerald normally would have someone drive him when he used a county car.
Records also show that eight employees of the county's department of children and family services were disciplined in 2013 for not having driver's licenses. Six of the employees were required to reimburse Cuyahoga County for mileage they had claimed while driving without a valid license, according to the records, which were first obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
A county employee's manual says anyone who drives a county car or uses a personal vehicle for county business must have a license and must tell a supervisor if the license has expired or has been suspended.
FitzGerald issued a statement Friday saying: "I fully agree that I should be held accountable to the same standards as my employees, which is why I reimbursed the county for any and all expenses related to my use of the county car. I will be equally compliant with city policy and any action they deem necessary."
He recently reimbursed the county $30 for parking and gas he had expensed during his first two years in office.
Luchette referred inquiries about FitzGerald's use of city cars in Lakewood to officials there. Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler said Friday that he did not know whether FitzGerald drove city vehicles after fueling them.
Questions about FitzGerald's driving and license history have drawn attention in recent weeks following media reports about police officers from the Cleveland suburb of Westlake finding FitzGerald in a car with a woman who was not his wife at an industrial park at 4:30 a.m. in October 2012. FitzGerald and the woman, an Irish citizen visiting northeast Ohio as part of a delegation, have said nothing inappropriate occurred.