Cuyahoga County Disciplines Employees For Not Having Driver’s Licenses

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A week after Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald apologized for driving a decade without a permanent drivers license, documents show his administration held at least eight employees accountable for the same offense.

"There is no excuse, and there is no way to talk this away," said Sam Gresham of the non-partisan Common Cause.  "You reap what you sow.  The things he did to those employees magnifies now because he didn't have a driver’s license.  I hope for him he provides a rational explanation but I don't know what that will be." 

The Northeast Ohio Media Group discovered that in 2013 FitzGerald disciplined the employees with penalties ranging from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension without pay.

This comes after the Columbus Dispatch uncovered that FitzGerald had driven on a temporary license - or none at all - for a decade.

Gresham says the drivers license issue is important to most voters because it speaks to FitzGerald's character and decision making as an elected official.

"What is his thought process not taking care of this, that's what bothers me," said Gresham.  "The sad part of this campaign is that we're not talking about other issues, but that's his fault.  That's nobody else's fault.  You know they're going to do background on you and you need to have an answer."

FitzGerald has said he was guilty of procrastination and has since returned $30 to Cuyahoga County for reimbursement he received while driving without a license.

Republicans have been quick to pounce on the license issue.

The state GOP released a picture of FitzGerald standing in between the mug-shot photos of Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan with the caption, "Two of these people had a drivers license in 2011. It's not the one running for Ohio governor."

"It's about trust and credibility," said Republican strategist Terry Casey.  "If you look at liberal newspapers like in Toledo and Cleveland and the editorial cartoons, Ed FitzGerald has become a joke.  It's embarrassing to Ohio and I feel sorry for his family."

Democrats say FitzGerald's apology about the license will be enough for most voters.

"What it says is he forgot to get his license renewed," said Brian Rothenberg from the liberal ProgressOhio.  "At the same time there were other things that were bad last week.  There was a water problem in Toledo caused by EPA problems that the state of Ohio has.  We had problems with fracking a couple weeks ago.  We're closing down women's clinics.  There are other major issues."