An embattled former Democratic candidate for a Florida State House seat admitted to state investigators that she fabricated her entire story of being a medical doctor and pulling 77 bullets out of 32 victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016. Before running for House District 28 just outside Orlando, Elizabeth McCarthy was the legislative director for the Florida Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus.
“I personally removed 77 bullets from 32 people … It was like an assembly line,” McCarthy said at a gun control panel earlier this year. She claimed to have been a cardiologist at Orlando Regional Medical Center on the night of the attack. She also repeated these claims in statements at campaign events with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and in an interview with Florida Politics.
Yet when Florida Politics’ Scott Powers tried to verify her credentials, her universities and company denied any connection with her. McCarthy had claimed she was a basketball player for the University of Florida Gators (1989-1990) and the Florida State University Seminoles (1991-1992), yet both schools’ athletic departments said they have no records of anyone by her name. She claimed to have gotten her BA at FSU, but the school had no degree in her name. She claimed she received her medical degree from the University of Central Florida in 2014, yet UCF officials said they could find no record of her.
McCarthy had also claimed she worked for the Florida Heart Group of Orlando, but that company said she had not worked there.
Following the Florida Politics reporting, the Florida Department of Health launched an investigation. According to documents released Wednesday, McCarthy admitted to lying about the entire thing, Pulse Nightclub shooting included. The Department is charging her with violating state law by lying about being a doctor.
“I lied,” the charging affidavit quotes her as saying, when DoH Medical Quality Assurance Investigator Rafael B. Aponte asked her about the Florida Politics reports.
As for the claim she removed 77 bullets from 32 Pulse nightclub victims, she admitted, “It is a false statement. I just made it up.”
Aponte asked McCarthy why she “lied to the same people she wanted to help.” She responded by apologizing and saying she was “portraying a life that wasn’t true.”
“I wanted to be somebody in the community, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I gave any impersonation. I knew it was wrong and I should have stopped — by no means did I ever mean to put anybody in jeopardy,” McCarthy said, according to the affidavit.
The DoH is seeking to fine her $1,000 plus costs, which adds up to $3,094.95, Florida Politics reported. She has 30 days to dispute the investigation’s findings and seek a hearing, but it seems likely she will just accept guilt and pay up.
After the Florida Politics report about her lack of credentials and the resulting DoH investigation started on June 15, McCarthy originally attacked claims she was lying as a “campaign smearing.” Yet late last month, she withdrew from the race.
It appears she aimed to capitalize on the suffering in Orlando for political gain. In June 2016, an ISIS terrorist opened fire at the Pulse Nightclub, a gay bar, killing 49 and wounding 53. This terror attack was horrific, but the bar wasn’t the terrorist’s intended target — Disney World was, and he didn’t even search for “gay nightclubs,” but merely for “nightclubs.”
Even so, the Pulse Nightclub shooting has become a cause celebre for the LGBT community, with 2020 Democrats seeming to repeat the idea that this violence was targeted against LGBT people. Activists also seem to ignore facts the distract from the narrative, like the fact that Chick-fil-A — demonized as force of “anti-LGBT hate” — fired up the grill on a Sunday to serve free chicken to people as they gave blood to help the victims.
McCarthy already had some clout in the LGBT community as the Democratic LGBT Caucus legislative director, and The Advocate has described her as “gay” (though PJ Media could not confirm this). Perhaps she thought an invented history pulling 77 bullets out of Pulse victims would again her clout in the LGBT movement and the Democratic Party, and could land her in the Florida State House.
Instead, her aborted campaign became an embarrassing “Florida Woman” story, thanks to the reporting of Florida Politics.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.