A brand-new corporation created by Democratic Congressional candidate Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick gave more than $155,000 to a Florida political committee tied to a Republican-friendly political consultant, records show. Cherfilus-McCormick is one of the twelve Democrats seeking the nomination to replace Alcee Hastings as the CD 20 Representative in the United States Congress. While Cherfilus-McCormick repeatedly denies trying to “buy the seat,” paying huge sums to a controversial consultant to Republican candidates may be a sign money is no object to her campaign.
LEADERSHIP IN ACTION?
According to State records, on March 12,2021 Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick formed SCM Consulting Group LLC. Cherfilus-McCormick used her parents’ Miramar address as the business address for SCM Consulting Group LLC. Two months later, SCM Consulting Group began making large contributions to the Leadership In Action political committee.
In May 2021, SCM made three contributions totaling $6,577.36 to Leadership In Action. In June 2021, SCM gave 6 contributions totaling $45,276.33 to the committee. In July 2021, SCM gave $52,343 spread out over 6 contributions. Last month, Leadership In Action received $37,262 from SCM Consulting Group LLC.
The address for Leadership In Action is the same Cooper City address used by controversial political consultant Mark Goodrich. Since May 2021, Leadership In Action paid nearly $63,000 to Goodrich for consulting fees. According to published reports, Goodrich is no stranger to controversial electioneering tactics and Republican candidates.
In 2005, Florida Governor Jeb Bush took legal action to keep the Americans For Jeb Bush political committee from using his name and likeness to raise money. The Tampa Bay Times reported the committee was “backed partly by Mark Goodrich, a conservative political activist and fund raiser who worked on Rick Lazio’s unsuccessful 2000 U.S. Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In 2009, Mark Goodrich bragged to the Sun-Sentinel about his ability to reach out to Republican voters in Fort Lauderdale. Goodrich was the consultant for mayoral candidate Earl Rynerson.
“Earl definitely would be very favorable to the Republican Party,” Goodrich told the Sun-Sentinel. “We’re going to reach out to Republicans.” Goodrich said “that was one reason Rynerson decided to put the words ‘Lt. Colonel’ in front of his name.”
Later, Goodrich rejected calls to label the openly gay Rynerson as a “gay candidate.”
“He’s not running to be the city’s first gay mayor, his campaign manager, Mark Goodrich, said. ‘He’s not running to be the first gay anything. I could say he’s running to be the first lieutenant colonel mayor.’”
In 2015, ethical investigations swirled around worked performed by the Moving Forward PC in Homestead. Goodrich was a paid consultant for Moving Forward.
In 2016, Mark Goodrich performed “community outreach” for Miami-Dade Republican Raquel Regalado when she ran for mayor.
Why would a Democrat hire a consultant so deeply tied to Republican candidates? And why would Cherfilus-McCormick pay her consultant via a State political committee instead of her own Federal campaign account?
When REDBROWARD asked Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick about Mark Goodrich, she admitted he was “one of many” consultants helping her campaign.
Cherfilus-McCormick was less forthcoming when asked why her brand new corporation was paying nearly $156,000 to the Leadership In Action.
Cherfilus-McCormick tried to say she did not remember and would have to review her records. When asked why a CEO and lawyer couldn’t recall the details of large payments to a political committee tied to her campaign consultant, Cherfilus-McCormick claimed the $156,000 was for “medical services canvassing” work done by Goodrich.
She once again asked for time to review records and promised more information.
Cherfilus-McCormick never called back.
REDBROWARD contacted Mark Goodrich to ask him about his work for Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.
“Pass,” Goodrich said.
REDBROWARD reached Mark Goodrich at the telephone listed as the contact number for the Leadership In Action political committee.
Guess Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and her team don’t think voters deserve answers.
Inter Miami CF should be the toast of the town. Over the last month, fans filled DRV PINK Stadium as the Fort Lauderdale-based Major League Soccer franchise gained 21 points over 10 games to jump into the MLS playoff race. Instead, owner David Beckham and his partners were smeared in local and international newspapers thanks to curious attacks by Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Heather Moraitis and her cronies.
On August 20th, Heather Moraitis launched her first attack on David Beckham and Inter Miami in a Sun-Sentinel story. According to the story, Moraitis feared a “sweetheart deal” which allowed Inter Miami to build a stadium (at the team’s expense) on the city owned Lockhart Stadium site would “turn into one of the worst failures of her political career.” Moraitis was angered when she learned Inter Miami was pursuing a National Womens Soccer League (NWSL) team. While the NWSL team would play at DRV PINK, Moraitis feared some of the empty forty acres of land on the stadium site would be used for the women’s team.
As part of the Lockhart Stadium deal, Inter Miami CF agreed to build a park on some of the land located along Commercial Boulevard by 2022. Once the deal was signed, Heather Moraitis controlled to process to figure out what would be built on the site. Moraitis held numerous meetings for “community input” to decide final plans for the park. This has lead to constantly changing plans. At one Fort Lauderdale Commission workshop, REDBROWARD heard Moraitis advocate for an “e-sports arena” on the site.
Yet, in the Sun-Sentinel article, Heather Moraitis blamed Beckham for the delay in building the park. She badmouthed the NWSL idea as a “surprise” and compared it to a broken promise. “There is no way I am giving them 1 inch of land,” Moraitis said.
BECKHAM SMEAR GOES INTERNATIONAL
Less than a week later, Heather Moraitis’ attacks on David Beckham and Inter Miami went global. David Beckham, a former captain of England and a Manchester United great, is an international superstar. Surely Moraitis and her team should have expected the international media to react when she accused him of reneging on a deal with Fort Lauderdale. In the British newspaper, The Guardian, Moraitis said, “It seems like an empty promise. I understand everyone has a bottom line and they want to make money, but you can’t do it on the backs of the people.” She complained the area was fenced off and used for parking. Longtime soccer and high school football fans know the area has always been used as a parking lot.
Moraitis told The Guardian that the team “stalled for two years.” She failed to mention her endless community meetings, her changing plans for the site or even COVID-19 lockdown.
“It seems like an empty promise,” Moraitis said. “I’m not even sure David Beckham knows what’s going on…My city feels let down.”
INTER MIAMI RESPONDS TO MORAITIS
On August 26, 2021, Inter Miami CF Vice President and General Counsel Pablo Alvarez sent a letter to Mayor Dean Trantalis, Heather Moraitis and the rest of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Alvarez said the team was “surprised and saddened” by Heather Moraitis’ remarks.
Alvarez told Commissioners:
“However, the fact is Inter Miami patiently waited while Commissioner Moraitis worked through various plans and designed for the south side of the site. Over the past two years we have attended meetings, provided resources and worked in good faith. While we appreciate her zeal, many changes were made, and directions varied sometimes week to week. As such, it is confusing that she is now saying we have slowed a process her office directed.”
Alvarez stated the Inter Miami could not start building anything since City has not approved a plan or design for the site.
Alvarez said Inter Miami “still believes in and wants a community park on the site.” He said the new stadium has increased jobs, generated revenue and “helped increase Fort Lauderdale’s exposure through…sporting events televised locally and worldwide.” He reminded Commissioners that the stadium was used by the City during the pandemic for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
TRANTALIS DESTROYS MORAITIS NARRATIVE
Earlier this month, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis exposed Heather Moraitis in a blistering power point presentation at a commission workshop. Trantalis told the Sun-Sentinel Moraitis had embarrassed the City and David Beckham without justification. “We understand through his partners that he was extremely embarrassed and felt betrayed by the comments of the vice mayor,” Trantalis said. “It hurt his reputation.”
Trantalis told Moraitis, “We cannot diss people in the public, especially in the international press.”
Trantalis methodically deconstructed Heather Moraitis’ attacks on Beckham and Inter Miami. He called Moraitis’ attack an “unprecedented media campaign” which “made misstatements about the city and its relationship with the Inter Miami soccer team and its ownership.” Trantalis said, “Statements implied that they were made on behalf of city government and the City Commission even though they were not.”
Trantalis stated the Moraitis attacks were featured in The Guardian, The Daily Mail, the Daily Express and The Times of London as well as foreign language media.
Dean Trantalis demonstrated who was to blame for any delay when he revealed the numerous different proposals for the park created by Heather Moraitis.
On September 13th, Heather Moraitis and her allies ran crying to the Sun-Sentinel. Moraitis called Trantalis’ presentation an “intimidation tactic” designed to silence her. “I feel like you’re trying to silence me,” Moraitis told the mayor. “My people want a park. I am going to shout from the rooftop of City Hall. I will not be silenced.”
Moraitis told the Sun-Sentinel, “Every single thing I said I meant and I stand by it. If they want to change the 20 acres, to me that’s a broken promise.”
Moraitis ally and busybody Mary Fertig told the Sun-Sentinel Moraitis was the victim. Fertig said, “This meeting was supposed to be about potential uses for the Lockhart community site,” she said. “But the only PowerPoint shown was about smearing Vice Mayor Moraitis.” More on Fertig in a bit.
Heather Moraitis claims she was shocked by Trantalis’ claim she had lunch with David Beckham. “I never had lunch with David Beckham,” she said. “I refused to meet with him before the vote. I didn’t want anyone to say I approved the deal because I was star-struck.”
While Heather Moraitis may have declined lunch with David Beckham, campaign records show she happily took the soccer superstar’s money.
While her 2020 re-election campaign did not receive contributions from Inter Miami CF, David Beckham or his partners, State records show they were generous donors to Heather Moraitis’ State political committee. Election records show the Serving Florida political committee was formed in January 2020. While based in Tallahassee, the chairman of Serving Florida is George R. Moraitis of Fort Lauderdale. Heather Moraitis is married to George Reynold Moraitis, a former State Representative.
While she now calls it a “sweetheart deal,” Heather Moraitis celebrated the Lockhart deal with Inter Miami on the Serving Florida website. According to the website, “Heather’s signature projects as a city commissioner include bringing David Beckham’s Inter Miami soccer team–successfully revitalizing Lockhart Park–and creating an aviation and aerospace technical program in partnership with Broward County Public Schools.”
Just two months after it was created, campaign records show Serving Florida received contributions from companies and individuals with business in the City of Fort Lauderdale.
In March 2020, Serving Florida picked up more than $7,000 from Miami Beckham United, Inter Miami, Mastec and Inter Miami lawyer/lobbyist Stephanie Toothaker.
In Heather Moraitis’ world, having lunch with David Beckham would look bad. But cashing Team Beckham’s checks is no problem?
Moraitis ally and neighborhood scold Mary Fertig posted the articles bashing David Beckham on her “Lauderdale Tomorrow” Facebook page. On August 26, 2021, Fertig posted, “We have more pending projects, never completed? Why is a park for the people the last piece of property that our Commissioners protect?” But Fertig failed to mention her previous Lauderdale Tomorrow posts praising Inter Miami for agreeing to build her pet project.
The old Lockhart Stadium hosted numerous football games for Fort Lauderdale high schools. When the Inter Miami deal was negotiated, Fertig asked Beckham to build a field for football use. Fertig praised Inter Miami when they agreed to built a stadium for local high school teams.
On March 19, 2019, Lauderdale Tomorrow posted “Mary Fertig’s report on ‘Public Purpose For Public Land’.” Fertig declared it a “good day at City Hall” after Inter Miami agreed to allow teams to use the new fields on the Lockhart site.
Fertig said she “asked that Lockhart Stadium once again be the home stadium for Fort Lauderdale High School and Stranahan…”
The stadium was built and sits just east of the main stadium.
Fertig never mentioned e-sports or dog parks or splash pads. Mary Fertig wanted a football stadium for Fort Lauderdale High School. And Team Beckham built that stadium.
In October 2020, Heather Moraitis thanked Inter Miami for the new stadium during a photo op before the Fort Lauderdale High game against Dillard. Moraitis singled out Mary Fertig for praise. She said Fertig helped keep the stadium a top priority.
Now, Heather Moraitis and Mary Fertig want more.
For some reason, Moraitis and Fertig value a “destination park” at a parking lot bordered by an airport on the west and industrial buildings on the east more than a national sports team owned by David Beckham and the Mas Brothers.
The nearest residential neighborhood is located in Tamarac. Does Heather Moraitis want to build a “destination park” for Tamarac residents?
Did Heather Moraitis’ quest to land a partnership with Broward Schools cause the numerous delays?
Is anyone really clamoring for a dog park and splash pad along the racetrack formerly known as Commercial Boulevard?
Is someone seeking leverage in the One Stop deal in downtown Fort Lauderdale?
Why does Heather Moraitis have a state political committee?
It was a star-studded weekend for Broward Teachers Union (BTU) Anna Fusco. On Saturday, Fusco and Broward School Superintendent Vickie Cartwright partied with rapper Kodak Black and other politicos in Margate. Even though both women are staunch mask mandate supporters, neither Fusco nor Cartwright wore masks at the dedication of a recreational facility.
But the Broward hypocrisy parade didn’t stop there. On Sunday, the Sun-Sentinel published an editorial by Fusco scolding Governor Ron DeSantis over his fight against Broward Schools’ mask mandate.
Fusco wrote, “Governor DeSantis needs to pause his partisan fight against masks so that all Florida school boards can require masks for kids and educators.”
Fusco declared, “It’s a simple formula: Masks+ Vaccinations= Healthier Schools!”
If the formula is so simple, why did Fusco and Cartwright attend a large gathering without masks? What if the Margate event becomes a “super spreader event?”
They were mask free on Saturday. Hundreds of people attended the Margate event. Proof of vaccination was not required. Yet Cartwright and Fusco walked the red carpet to snap pics with a rapper.
Back in July, Fusco and Cartwright wore masks in Facebook video welcoming Cartwright to Broward.
Was this all for show?
Did Fusco and Cartwright get tested on Sunday?
Are Fusco and Cartwright in quarantine?
Are two of Broward’s top school officials interacting with staff, educators and kids this Monday?
How can Cartwright and Fusco continue to scold parents, students and politicians who reject their mask mandate push?
Will the Sun-Sentinel add a note to Anna Fusco’s hypocritical editorial?