Politico's Kenneth Vogel and Byron Tau filed a long Friday article moaning about how influential opposition research has become in the conduct of this year's political campaigns. My takeaway is that they really don't like it this time around — not because the money involved has increased, and not because supposedly lax campaign-finance laws have accommodated this increase. No, they're really upset because, according to Joe Pounder, a cofounder of the conservative American Rising, "so far, at least — Democrats had endured more such hits than Republicans."
So I guess the next step for the Politico pair inevitably had to be to minimize the importance of hits against Democrats. Here's their one-sentence evaluation of one of them: "[S]maller scoops have proliferated as well — an Ohio gubernatorial candidate caught driving without a license, for example." You've got to be kidding.
Vogel and Tau act as if Buckeye State Democrat Edward FitzGerald was merely "caught driving without a license" one time, and as if the license had expired only days or weeks before FitzGerald was caught.
Not at all, according to a series of Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in early August. Here are several paragraphs from the most damning of them (bolds are mine):
Ed FitzGerald's driver's license lapse included time as mayor and safety director in Lakewood
For at least a portion of the three years he served as mayor of Lakewood, Ed FitzGerald had keys for a city-issued car.
FitzGerald, now the Cuyahoga County executive and Democratic nominee for governor, had no license to drive at all between 2002 and March 2008, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported Tuesday. FitzGerald was elected mayor in November 2007.
And FitzGerald drove on temporary learner's permits, meaning he could drive legally only when a licensed driver was with him, from March 2008 until November 2012, when he obtained a full license. That followed an incident the previous month, when Westlake police found FitzGerald parked at 4:30 a.m. with a woman who was not his wife.
As mayor, he also served as Lakewood's public-safety director.
On Tuesday, Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that FitzGerald had access to a city-issued sedan during his tenure as mayor. NEOMG has submitted a request for public records related to FitzGerald's use of city vehicles and his requests for mileage reimbursements during city-related travel.
Lakewood already has provided documentation that FitzGerald, in February and March of 2008, received two reimbursements for mileage totaling $46.16.
Later Tuesday, Butler said FitzGerald began driving city vehicles in 2009. A document the city provided showed that, from 2009 through 2010, FitzGerald pumped nearly $1,500 worth of fuel from the city's filling station into these cars.
... The drivers license issue surfaced Monday when the (Columbus) Dispatch reported that FitzGerald was on a temporary permit at 4:30 a.m. Oct. 13, 2012, when police responding to a call about a suspicious car found FitzGerald parked with a woman who was not his wife. Police did not charge FitzGerald, who has said he did nothing improper.
Here's a one-sentence summary from a separate Plain Dealer item by Brent Larkin for readers who haven't grasped the full impact of the above excerpt:
FitzGerald went 10 years without a valid permanent driver's license -- including periods when he was county executive, Lakewood mayor and Lakewood safety director
From all appearances, the revelations have completely ruined FitzGerald's candidacy, which had already trailing incumbent Governor John Kasich in the polls. His money flow has virtually stopped. He's so weak that Kasich feels that it's unnecessary to debate him — an Ohio first in over 35 years — without fear of meaningful blowback.
The only conceivable reason why Politico would call such catastrophic news a "small scoop" is that FitzGerald is a Democrat. If this assessment doesn't demonstrate what a complete collection of hacks occupy the Politico, I don't know what does.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.