"Ohio doesn't want the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal to come to the statehouse," reads the petition's preamble, next to a badly photoshopped image of Fitzgerald with head in his hands.
The site then reprints a phone conversation between Fitzgerald and Jimmy Dimora regarding control of an ice rink (Winterhurst, in Lakewood). The Republican party's allegation is that Bill Neiheiser, the man who ultimately won control of Winterhurst, got the winning bid because of a "sizable contribution" to Fitzgerald's political campaign.
That contribution totaled $250, and Fitzgerald donated it to a charity for veterans.
Fitzgerald never hid or denied Neiheiser's contribution. In a 2010 interview with Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey, Fitzgerald explained how he handles donations from someone with pending business:
“Well, I think you have to have the character to make sure those things don’t influence you,” he says, “and it didn’t influence me.” It also depends on a contribution’s size and how an official goes about asking for funds, FitzGerald adds. “If I’m directly soliciting somebody for a large contribution while something is pending, I think that’s different. I don’t think I violated that standard in that case.” Neiheiser, he says, “showed up at a fundraiser and made a pretty modest contribution.”
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