Ed FitzGerald, the former and first Cuyahoga County Executive whose tenure ended in a string of minor scandals and a disastrous gubernatorial run against John Kasich, has kept a few irons in the fire since departing from public office. Back in 2015 he formed a nonprofit to explore creating an annual festival, a reboot of sorts of the Great Lakes Exposition, an idea he first floated early in his time as county exec. He later joined a Chicago-based consulting firm called placevalue.
More recently, FitzGerald emerged once again in the Cleveland public eye, to guffaws and unmistakable notes of irony. Mark Naymik reported a couple of weeks ago that Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr appointed Fitzgerald as one of the part-time magistrates for the city's mayor's court. In that capacity, FitzGerald, who notably didn't have a valid driver's license for ten years, would be ruling on cases involving people who drive on lapsed licenses.
The trend of FitzGerald nabbing jobs for which he seems personally unsuited given his track record continued with this week's news that the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party has hired FitzGerald and his firm, Democracy Advisors, to be the party's fundraiser.
"The party has been trying to beef up its wallet for some time. It needs money for party operations and its get-out-the vote efforts, especially in this year's key elections. (Shontel Brown, who was elected in August as chairwoman of the county party, told me during a January interview that she hopes the party will someday have enough money to even pay its chair person)," Naymik reported today.
"Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, who is the party's executive vice chairman, said FitzGerald's firm made the best presentation by far. 'It was very impressive,' said Kelley, who previously used the firm to help raise money for Cleveland City Council candidates."
FitzGerald, we all know now, faired terribly in his run for governor thanks to the driver's license revelations, the whole being caught with a woman who was not his wife in a car in a suburb at 2 a.m., and news that his initial selection for Lt. Governor owed almost a million dollars in unpaid back taxes. Fundraising troubles, independent of and tied to those incidents, also played a big role. Kasich's collections outpaced FitzGerald's at a 5-1 rate
while the candidate haughtily dismissed his low-dollar performance, saying, "I don't beg, ever."
Fitz probably has a different opinion now, of course. The question is whether he can actually fill the party's coffers better than he filled his own campaign's.
If this hiring trend continues, by the way, expect Westlake to name FitzGerald as its newest curfew enforcement officer any day now.