Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is the second south Florida Democrat running television commercials paid for with official funds. Wilson is the longtime representative of CD -24 which covers parts of Broward and Miami-Dade. But it was Wilson’s newest colleague in Congress who drew the media’s ire.
In June, Inside Elections first reported on three commercials from Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus McCormick. The ads included an odd disclaimer which read, “Paid for with official funds from the office of Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.” While rare, Inside Elections conceded, “members of Congress are allowed to use official funds for TV ads, as long as they cover official business and steer clear of campaign content.”
However, the slick style of advertising lead the website to wonder if McCormick was “blurring lines.”
“A review of House ethics rules suggests Cherfilus-McCormick is operating in a significant gray area when it comes to how members can and cannot spend official funds. And her past financial filings show that it’s not the first time the congresswoman has come under scrutiny for her use of taxpayer dollars while seeking office,” Inside Elections reported.
But if McCormick is operating in a gray area, she is not alone.
Frederica Wilson is running the same slick commercials masquerading as informational messages. The Wilson ads tout money she’s brought home to her district. She reads a laundry list of projects she helped fund for cities in her district like Hollywood, West Park and Opa-Locka.
The Wilson ad includes this disclaimer, “Paid for with official funds from the office of Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson.”
According to the Sun-Sentinel, The Republican Party pounced on the issue. A Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson said, “Not only are Florida Democrats incompetent, they’re also corrupt.”
So why are Democrats even using official funds to help Sheila Cherfilus McCormick and Frederica Wilson?
McCormick is the newcomer facing a primary challenge by former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. Even though she beat Holness by just 5 votes, most insiders believe McCormick will easily win the Democrat primary in August.
The news surrounding the always controversial Holness keeps getting worse. On Friday, Omar Smith, his longtime campaign operative, pled guilty to Federal felony charges related to COVID-19 relief fraud. Smith faces up to thirty years in prison. Last month, Holness’ daughter began a twenty-month prison term on similar charges.
While Wilson avoided a real primary challenge, the 79 year-old Congresswoman faced real criticism over absenteeism and proxy votes.