In October 2008, during the height of the presidential race between then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain, the Columbus Dispatch revealed that state databases had been searched in Ohio for information on Joe “the Plumber” in the days after he was mentioned by McCain during a debate.  Republicans across the country freaked out over the incident.  “It’s outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama’s allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen,” said Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, after the incident in.

It’s now nearly six years later to the day, and Plunderbund has uncovered evidence that similarly questionable searches have been conducted on the records of Edward FitzGerald, the Democratic candidate for Governor.  But this time around, Republicans don’t seem to be in such an uproar.  Instead, Governor John Kasich and his administration appear to be actively working to cover up the incidents, or at least working to delay them from becoming public until after the election in November.

FitzGeraldSearchScreenShot

Access logs obtained by Plunderbund show the dates and times FitzGerald’s private records were accessed

Records obtained by Plunderbund show that John Kasich’s Campaign Manager Matt Carle sent a very specific request to the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) on June 6th, 2014.  Carle’s email to Robin Mathews, a lawyer at DPS, asked for “documents relating to specific dates of when Mr. FitzGerald’s drivers license expired and was renewed over the past 5 years.”  Carle received the documents a few days later.  Those documents showed what Carle likely knew already: that Ed FitzGerald had, gasp!, been driving on a temporary Ohio license.

Carle sat on the information for a few months.  And then, on the morning of August 4th, 2014, two months later, Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch suddenly requested FitzGerald’s driving record .  Vardon received the files the same day and “broke” his story on the Dispatch’s website at 7:54 AM the next morning.  Within hours, every statehouse reporter in Ohio had made a similar request to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), a division of DPS.

It’s clear that Matt Carle’s record request was no fishing expedition.  He knew exactly what he was looking for.  And it seems fairly obvious that Carle later leaked his findings to Joe Vardon, whose article sparked a media feeding frenzy.

But the big question no one seems to be asking is this: who leaked that information to Matt Carle?  And, more importantly, could that leak have come from someone inside the Ohio Department of Public Safety or the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles?

Plunderbund obtained access log records from the BMV showing FitzGerald’s records were accessed four times by someone inside the BMV/DPS network in 2012 and 2013.  Those records were accessed:

  • once on  01/30/12 at 7:44 AM
  • twice on 09/11/13 at 11:38 AM  and
  • once on 11/22/13 at 12:15 PM

There are only a handful of people at the BMV who have access to these records and their user names are included on most of the access log entries associated with the 2014 public record requests.  For the searches made in 2012 and 2013, no user name is included in the access log, however the IP addresses associated with the 2012 and 2013 log entries match the IP addresses of some of the 2014 entries, indicating the same individual or computer may have been involved with both.

It’s important to note that these four earlier searches were not associated with any public record request.  And they were made after FitzGerald, already a elected official, had announced he was running for Governor.

So who was searching through Ed FitzGerald’s driving records in 2012 and 2013 and why? BMV and DPS officials have been ignoring our emails asking for details for over a week now.  Here are the four questions they need to answer about the mysterious access log entries:

1. Do you know who accessed the records in 2012 and 2013, what was searched for, and what information was returned?

2. Who at the BMV has access to the system storing these records? It is just the two or three staff members with user names? Or can IT and other staff access the records without their user names being logged?

3. Do you have a policy in place to “flag” records of public officials such that inappropriate accesses to their records can be identified?

4. Has an investigation been opened by the BMV, Public Safety, or any other group to determine if Mr. FitzGerald’s driving or license records were inappropriately accessed?

This is the second such inquiry we have made with the DPS, and the second that lawyers for the Ohio Department of Public safety have attempted to quash.  Back in August we asked for similar access log information from LEADS (the Law Enforcement Automated Data System), the same system used to access the driving records of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (aka Joe “The Plumber”) back in 2008.   In that case, a LEADS audit was performed and investigations were opened.  The findings resulted in at least one state employee losing her job.

In the case of Republican Joe “The Plumber,” DPS was happy to provide information to Dispatch Reporters about who accessed LEADS records and when.  But when we requested the same information about Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s personal data being accessed suspiciously, we were told these were not public records and could not be released.

It’s clear someone used state equipment access private information about Ed FitzGerald at least four times in 2012 and 2013.  These mysterious searches need to be investigated immediately, just like they were in 2008.

It’s also clear that Kasich’s campaign manager knew exactly what he was looking for when he requested Ed FitzGerald’s records.  If it turns out these two events are related, then someone broke the law while assisting John Kasich’s reelection campaign.

A copy of the access log records is available here: DLVR Logs-Fitzgerald_Redacted (note: this is a 16GB file)

 

 

 

 

 
  • anastasjoy

    Thank you. Pretty much as I suspected. I feel llke slugging the next person who wails that Democrats should have “vetted” FitzGerald better— for information that is private, inaccessible and not really relevant to a candidate’s qualifications anyway. Of course, I think we guessed that this media narrative was driven by a neatly gift-wrapped package of oppo research handed to them by the Republican Party. Thank you for proving it. The Disgrace and the Plainly Republican should stop calling themselves “news” outlets and the ORP needs to start reporting their coverage as in-kind donations. They’re nothing but water carriers for the ORP and Kasich.

  • anastasjoy

    Reading this over again (and I had to read it several times to believe it) I am even more shocked and stunned by the tactics the ORP had to resort to in order to assure Kasich reelection when polls showed FitzGerald nipping at his heels for over a year and Kasich with no accomplishments to run on. And I am shocked and stunned (although I guess I shouldn’t be) by the willingness of the Disgrace and the Plainly Republican to be complicit in this. You know who else I feel like slugging? The next person who says “But we need newspapers to keep us informed. Who will take their place? Surely not blogs!”

  • Think.

    Why would ANYONE vote for this current governor whose administration has been involved in so many scandals?

  • buckeye15

    I am sure the fact that Carle sat on that gem till it was too late for the ODP to get another candidate in place was just pure coincidence…right???

  • anastasjoy

    “Another candidate” wasn’t the answer. “Another candidate” would simply have simply showed that the Democrats were too weak and groveling to ever win. The media would have had an endless field day with THAT and “another candidate” would have been sacrificed by the same margin. If Kasich hadn’t had a drivers license for a decade (and who knows — maybe he didn’t?) it would have been a non-story. We needed to punch back and make this a non-story, not sacrifice Ed and someone else. Sadly, there will be no justice on this since the media is part of the story.

  • anastasjoy

    Precisely, Think.

  • dmoore2222

    Dems show up at the polls, Frackin John loses. It’s that simple. They know it as evidenced by resorting to stuff like this, and the puff pieces and pretend polling the Dispatch has been peddling. But there’s a sleeping giant out there that is their worst nightmare and it will awake on November 4th.

  • Sadly, it’s because nobody seems to ever take the time to do proper research to determine the best candidate for them…ESPECIALLY local elections, which probably affects one’s daily life more than anything!

  • What if it turns out someone from ODP was doing due diligence on Fitzy? Oh wait…never mind.

  • How many years would county prosecutor Ed FitzGerald put you in jail for driving illegally for 10 years Anastasia?

  • Ed sacrificed himself, Anastasia. You and your ilk continue making excuses for this buffoon, who, if he had a brain cell active, would never have run for governor knowing he’d been wontonly breaking the law for 10 solid years. And for you, a woman, to blithely ignore that while breaking the law, Fitz was driving around multiple women not his wife, really shows the depths you’ll sink for ODP. Pathetic.

  • Andrea Rocco.

  • Yes, let’s all think about how stupendously lawless it is to drive around for 10 years without a license or insurance. Let’s!

  • Cichlid61

    Oh, please. It’s the idiocy of lacking perspective. There are howitzers worth of ammunition against Kasich for genuinely destructive things he’s done, but the Dems moan, wring their hands and surrender over a BB gun going off towards their own candidate.

    Spineless wusses! Dig in and fight back, dammit!

  • Cichlid61

    False equivalence. When someone did THE EXACT SAME THING on behalf of a GOP darling, (‘Joe’ The Plumber), it was somehow no big deal. Then ‘due diligence’ was overstepping the line. But when it benefits the GOP, it’s a whole ‘nother thing.

    ‘Cause, you know, ‘It’s not illegal if a Republican did it.’.

  • Cichlid61

    LOL You’re a loon, Timmy. A dishonest loon.

  • dmoore2222

    We’ll find out in two weeks whether or not these so called scandals made a difference. Personally I don’t think they will. Kasich hasn’t won over the large groups of voters he alienated three years ago. And his economic agenda, the centerpiece of his administration, is an abject failure. He can’t win with a robust opposition turnout and he knows it. So it could be Gumby running against him for all it matters. The vote will not be for anyone else as much as will be against him.

  • Spitfiremk1

    It is almost Halloween, shouldn’t you be cowering in your bunker? But, that’s right, zombies only want you for your mind, so you have nothing to worry about.

  • wetsu

    It was with Nixon.

  • Cichlid61

    They’ve [d]evolved since Nixon. 😉

    He had the fantasy that it wasn’t illegal if the President did it. The GOP has since apparently come to believe that it isn’t illegal as long as any Republican does it.

    (and that if the President is black, everything HE does is illegal, lol)

    By their fruits shall ye know them.

  • Red Rover

    If you can’t fathom that a man and a woman can ride in a car together without anything inappropriate happening, then something is wrong with YOU.

  • I think you missed my point.

    I agree that the state Dems should absolutely nut-up, and I’m pretty pissed off that they cashed out of the game so early….
    My point was that IF VOTERS ACTUALLY TOOK THE TIME TO LOOK UP THE QUALIFICATIONS OF EACH CANDIDATE, the Dems wouldn’t really need to do anything but run on their platform and let the chips fall. Case in point: a teaching colleague voted for Kasich last election simply because he was a Republican. Anyone who did any sort of prior insight into Kasich knew he was gunning for unions. But he still voted against his own interests because of what he saw on FoxNews and because Kasich had a cute lil’ elephant next to his name.

    I cannot tell you how many people I’ve encountered who vote against their own interests because “I was born a Republican.” And it doesn’t seem to matter how you try and help them see the issue.

    My favorite quote about this type of thing:
    “‘You must be like a billionaire?’ And they go, ‘I make, like, 30 grand a year,’ and I’m like, ‘Wow, ’cause Bush fuckin’ hates you, did you know that?’ – Patton Oswalt, on voting for George W. Bush

  • stryx

    I’m with Cassandra on this one. Which is not to say that Anastajoy is wrong- it’s a both/and situation. GOP dirty tricks and shoddy candidate selection. But absent Fitz being a spectacular liar, the GOP has no dirty trick. Whose job is it to check to make sure the prospective candidate isn’t lying? It comes back to Redfern. Seriously, have you been hired for a job recently? Did they ask for a copy of your DL? Dems are about to invest millions of $$ in Fitz and no one asked him for a copy of his DL? Even as a formality? For insurance purposes? So yeah, it’s shitty what the GOP did and someone should get nailed for it, but come on.

  • wetsu

    Agreed. And it is certainly true that Nixon thought that it wasn’t illegal if the President did it. Sounds like JobsOhio, Mark Kvamme, etc.

  • mrgavel

    Look I am a very strong Democrat and a contributor to Fitzgerald’s campaign but here is the fact that you are overlooking: It takes a very arrogant person to think that they can drive without a license for 10 years, run for governor, and assume that his or her driving record won’t come out. The problem with the Fitzgerald campaign is the trouble that lot of Democrats who come from Cuyahoga County have or, for that matter, the trouble that Republicans from safe Republican counties have: When your party dominates a county locally, you get lazy and assume that the lack of scrutiny you receive is typical in a statewide race. It isn’t. Fitzgerald will lose big and Democrats should be asking themselves who in the Party leadership is responsible for the Democratic party having him at the top of the ticket?

  • dmoore2222

    It would be hard to claim that the Dems put on a worthy gubernatorial campaign, Fitzgerald or not. It just doesn’t appear to me that they had a solid strategy. The poor job numbers, and the JobsOhio boondoggle, alone should have been at the heart of it. No messaging at all. It will take huge voter turnout to bail them out of this one.

  • Spitfiremk1

    You are right, it seems like the ODP was satisfied with defeating SB 5 and Romney and then just lost interest. In the past three years Kasich has done everything imaginable to throw th election except endorse E.F., so how hard would it be to print a few campaign signs. He could get a lot of publicity just by going to county fairs and in most (if not all) the county Democratic Party would foot the bill. He just needs to get his message out to the voters and we need to push for voter turn-out.

  • dmoore2222

    It’s all about turnout now. Barring a “November Surprise” of some kind, there’s really nothing else that can be done except to get Dems off their asses and out to the polls. The lingering resentment from SB5 and the Kasich/republican anti-women policies will definitely help. But without a robust turnout, it’s another four years of dread.

  • CherMoe

    BENGHAZI!!!!! Non-existent IRS scandal. Oh, and the MONICA LEWINSKY book coming out to AGAIN discredit our former President JUST IN TIME FOR ELECTIONS. The Republicans ARE TERRIFIED and know they can only win by cheating!!!

  • CherMoe

    Please answer this question. WHY would a person DELIBERATELY drive around WITHOUT a valid license in any state and especially a public official???? You call it arrogance. What did you think when Kasich called the cop an “idiot” for stopping him on a speeding violation???? Do you think Kasich was right to assume IMMUNITY for his transgressions? Do you HONESTLY think this was something other than a mistake and oversight on Mr. FitzGerald’s part??

  • mrgavel

    Do I think that Fitzgerald’s transgressions are as important as how Kasich handled the cop who pulled him over? No, because Kasich deliberately insulted someone who was just doing his job and was being bullied by a person with more apparent power. But do I think that each event shows a trait about the two individuals? Sure. In Kasich’s case it is that he is a bully and in Fitzgerald’s case it was that he is either negligent or egotistical enough to think that the rules don’t apply to him. In any event, though, Fitzgerald shouldn’t have been running for governor without getting his license taken care of before he announced.

  • Doug

    How about Pepper’s parking tickets???

  • mrgavel

    Yes, unfortunately I do, because I can’t see how a person could go 10 years without a valid Ohio driver’s license.

  • Steve

    Republicans do it all the time, driving without a license. They see it as aiding big government. So, got anymore ridiculous hypocritical questions? And, why criticize a man for doing his job as a prosecutor. That’s more than can be said of Johnny-Boy

  • Michael G Brotherton

    Says dumbfuck the magnificent.

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