Lighthouse Point mayoral candidate Maria Corvaia O’Donnell appears to be spreading misinformation in a effort to scare voters into supporting her campaign. In addition to her favorite causes like chickens and astroturf, Maria O’Donnell has filled her Facebook page with vague posts regarding “sober homes” in Lighthouse Point. The “Maria For Mayor” page was started on January 11, 2017. Less than two weeks later, O’Donnell made her first scary sober home post.
O’Donnell wrote, “Sober homes…have multiplied in the last couple of years and nothing is being done about it in [Lighthouse Point] thus far.” O’Donnell kicked up the fear factor with mentions of “drug dealers” and “prostitution” and a link to a story about a Palm Beach county sober home. She claimed “pill clinic” owners were operating a sober home “right by” a Lighthouse Point park.
O’Donnell, an attorney, told voters she would use her vast legal knowledge to fight sober homes. “[Lighthouse Point] you need me, and I will help you succeed as I helped my billion dollar clients,” O’Donnell wrote.
On February 2, O’Donnell used her legal background again in another sober home post. “If I win the city wins….If I win, the Sober Home problem gets a highly experienced lawyer like me to amend that Act which governs it….” On February 7, O’Donnell claimed sober home residents were “checking out the girls” at a local park. She wrote, “I can help you amend the laws that govern these Sober homes. I will donate my legal expertise to you, but I need a political seat to push this reform so I can get it done efficiently and effectively.”
On February 9th, Maria O’Donnell urged her small group of supporters to call the Lighthouse Point Police Department about the sober homes issue. She wrote, “This is REAL and we must be smart about it NOW to avoid what has happened to the North in Deerfield Beach and Del Ray [sic].” O’Donnel said, “I am willing to lend my legal expertise to help you.”
CITY OF LIGHTHOUSE POINT RESPONDS
On February 10th, the Lighthouse Point Police Department released a statement about sober homes. Even though sober homes are protected by the Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, the LHP Police Department said, “City officials worked aggressively to enact a Transient Rental Ordinance to regulate homes with transient occupancies, which includes sober homes.” The Police Department stated, “To our knowledge, they are no longer in operation.”
O’Donnell’s opponent, Mayor Glenn Troast also addressed “rumors” about sober homes.”
Troast wrote, “There have been numerous allegations about rampant sober homes in our wonderful city. The allegations are not true.”
O’DONNELL SEES ANOTHER CONSPIRACY TO SILENCE HER
Less than an hour after Troast posted his comments on Facebook, O’Donnell went on the attack. O’Donnell claimed she discussed the issue with a Lighthouse Point police officer two days earlier. According to O’Donnell, the police officer said they “hadn’t had trouble” with a sober home in months. O’Donnell claimed the late Friday “blast” from the Police Department was timed to coincide with the Keeper’s Parade on Saturday.
O’Donnell said she remained “on hold” with the police for “over ten minutes.” Later, O’Donnell claimed she told the chief of police to “amend the blast to save exposure of the town to litigation and to be candid to the people.”
O’Donnell said, “[Lighthouse Point] people are the smartest I’ve ever been around, they will check your facts, they don’t have to be law enforcement ot lawyers to know those.”
MARIA O’DONNELL FAILS TO CHECK FACTS, AGAIN
On Sunday, O’Donnell blasted out more false rumors about sober homes. O’Donnell claimed she found another sober home in Lighthouse Point. She wrote, “LHP police why didn’t you tell us about this in your email update that went out to the residents of LHP conveniently before this big city weekend?” O’Donnell included a link to the Florida Association Of Recovery Residences (FARR).
The FARR link shows SeaSteps Recovery listed in Lighthouse Point.
Just one problem, SeaSteps is actually located in nearby Pompano Beach.
According to State of Florida business records, Ocean Walk North LLC, dba SeaSteps, is located at 2701 E. Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, not Lighthouse Point.
Broward County Property Appraiser records show Ocean Walk North owns the property at 2701 E. Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, not Lighthouse Point.
It appears Ms. O’Donnell simply visited the FARR website and searched for facilities in Lighthouse Point. It appears she failed to verify the FARR information before making her outlandish claims on Facebook.
For all her claims of legal expertise, this is not the first time Maria O’Donnell failed to do simple fact checking during her campaign.
O’DONNELL FAILED TO VERFIY SIGNATURES FOR BALLOT QUALIFICATION
Last month REDBROWARD reported Maria O’Donnell failed to submit the signatures of ten Lighthouse Points voters need to qualify for the mayor’s race. Under city code Sec. 22-2(a), “A candidate for city office shall announce their candidacy by filing with the city clerk the notice of candidacy form, the petition of candidacy supported by the signatures of ten registered voters and qualified electors of the city….” Instead of getting extra signatures, O’Donnell submitted just ten names.
The second signature on Maria O’Donnell’s petition is her neighbor, Fannie Currie. A search of local, State, private and public voter registration databases by REDBROWARD failed to locate any Lighthouse Point voter by that name. A search of previous names Ms. Currie went by came up empty as well.
Lighthouse Point officials stated a Broward judge must determine whether Maria O’Donnell should remain on the March ballot.
Shortly after REDBROWARD posted the story, Maria O’Donnell went on an unhinged tirade similar to last week’s attacks on the Lighthouse Point Police. O’Donnell began an eight hour rant about the report.
O’DONNELL MAKE INSULT-FILLED FAKE NEWS RANT OVER STORY
O’Donnell and her husband started to add their commentaries to the REDBROWARD story. Brendan O’Donnell said his wife “personally” asked the ten people if they were registered voters. When asked if she did more to verify their information, Mr. O’Donnell wrote, “Are you seriously saying she should distrust her neighbor when she confirmed her voters status when pointedly asked???”
Minutes later, Maria O’Donnell attempted to use the same excuse.
Maria O’Donnell wrote, “I take great offense that the incumbent or anyone would ask I distrust my neighbor when I pointedly asked her if she was a registered voter and she was emphatic she was. You and the incumbent suggest we don’t trust our neighbors of Lighthouse Point? This issue is closed.”
After being asked why she did not take even basic steps to verify the information, O’Donnell wrote, “You are engaging in libel. I don’t appreciate that. I followed all the rules and respected them. I asked my neighbor pointedly if she was a registered voter, are you suggesting my incumbent asked for voter ID cards for his signatories?”
O’Donnell repeatedly referred to checking voter ID cards or “deeds.” She seems unaware that most of the voter information can be verified online, for free.
Instead of answering questions about her actions, Maria O’Donnell decided to launch personal attacks.
“You are quite skewed in your dislike for me, and it is tainting your ability to report the news unbiased,” she said. “Clearly that’s why you work for an internet local media outlet, if it even rises that that.”
Just after 6:30pm, O’Donnell claimed her rant was over. She said, “Your attacks are clearly fueled by your bias views and no facts therefore this discussion is now pointless. I won’t respond again. Re read my comments. Good day.”
Instead, O’Donnell continued her diatribe via Facebook messages to this reporter’s personal account.
O’Donnell claimed REDBROWARD had joined forces with her enemies in an attempt to keep her from winning.
She claimed she followed the law even though she had not submitted valid names. “All my signatories read the paper and affirmed their status and my cell records show I called them all in a row to reaffirm before filing so don’t knock me for my due diligence as if I sat on the corner asking for names….”
O’Donnell wrote, “Why are you so against me as mayor??? I am an American success story. I am running to donate my time to this town, why are you doing this?”
An hour into her Facebook rant, O’Donnell attempted keep her comments private. “Oh and you don’t have my permission to use any of my texts for your harassment column.”
This reporter stated we were on the record. At no time did she ask to go off the record.
Then, O’Donnell tried to imply she was an impostor pretending to be the candidate!
O’Donnell wrote, “I have a friend who sues reporters for this very thing. Always verify your source Tom.”
The exchange lasted from 2:00pm to almost 11:00 pm.
Maria O’Donnell continues to tout her “legal expertise” but REDBROWARD has now documented two cases where it appears she failed to do basic fact checking. Even more troubling, O’Donnell appears to have a habit of attacking those who dare to question her facts.
COMING UP: O’DONNELL USES LIGHTHOUSE POINT KIDS TO ATTACK HER OPPONENT’S SUPPORTERS