FitzGerald calls for Inspector General's resignation

Ohio gubernatorial candidate points to 'botched' report in Coingate scandal.

Ed FitzGerald, Democratic candidate for Ohio governor.
Ed FitzGerald, Democratic candidate for Ohio governor.

COLUMBUS — The man who wants to be Ohio’s next governor and the chairman of the state Democratic Party today called for the resignation of Inspector General Randy Meyer over what they called his office’s “botched” final report into the Coingate scandal.

Ed FitzGerald, currently Cuyahoga County executive, and party Chairman Chris Redfern also called for the appointment of an independent counsel to examine everything associated with the investigation of what Mr. Redfern called “perhaps the most important scandal in the last 40 years.”

“After years of Republican inspectors general making excuses and promising answers…, we were disappointed to see nothing more than a compilation of already released stories, almost a decade ago, compiled by other governmental agencies,” Mr. Redfern said.

Mr. Meyer’s office is expected to make more changes to the report to incorporate information on at least two people whose criminal records were intentionally omitted from the report because the office mistakenly believed they’d been expunged. They included former Gov. Bob Taft and his former aide, Douglas Moormann, both of whom pleaded to misdemeanor ethics violations of failing to report gifts from Tom Noe, the center of the investigation.

It would mark the second time that the office will have changed its report. The office on Friday had quietly removed a reference to Bernadette Restivo, Mr. Noe’s ex-wife, who had apparently been listed in error among those against whom judgments had been received by the state.

“The governor got it wrong from the beginning when he handpicked a partisan political supporter to be Ohio's Inspector General, and he should now demand IG Meyer's resignation,” said Mr. FitzGerald, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor on May 6.

“The botched CoinGate report is just the latest in a long string of embarrassing actions by the inspector general, and the governor should hold him responsible for his gross incompetence,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr. Meyer’s office, Carl Enslen, said there will be no resignation.

“It will not be happening,” he said. He declined to talk further, citing The Blade’s pending lawsuit trying to force the release of all public records associated with the investigation. That lawsuit is currently in mediation.

Before his appointment in 2011, Mr. Meyer, a former police officer, served as chief investigator for former Auditor Mary Taylor, now Mr. Kasich’s lieutenant governor.

Mr. Redfern suggested that Tony Bledsoe, Ohio’s legislative inspector general, be appointed to review all the records associated with the scandal and issue a new report. He disputed the suggestion that such a report cannot include information on criminal records that have been sealed since the report was issued.

Mr. Taft and his attorney on Tuesday said reports that his record had been expunged were not true, adding that the governor has no intention of seeking expungement.

Rep. Connie Pillich (D., Cincinnati), candidate for state treasurer, has already introduced a bill calling for inspectors general to be appointed through a bipartisan commission to ensure independence.