Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick admits her father called one of her Democratic opponents on a telephone belonging to her medical services company. Yesterday, REDBROWARD revealed Emmanuel Morel told Sun-Sentinel editors and reports about a phone call he received from Cherfilus-McCormick’s father, Gabriel Smith. A third candidate, Elvin Dowling provided details of the exchange which occurred during a Sun-Sentinel interview of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress CD 20.
According to Dowling, “Emanuel Morel informed us all that he received a call on Sunday evening from someone identifying themselves as the father of Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. He said that the person threatened him against running against his daughter (over the course of two separate phone calls that were apparently witnessed by members of Mr. Morel’s campaign staff). Mr. Morel stated that he felt his life was threatened and that he has contacted the FBI who is investigating the calls as we speak.” When asked by a reporter about the call, Cherfilus-McCormick denied any knowledge of any phone calls to Morel.
When Morel produced a telephone number, Cherfilus-McCormick said the number looked familiar. According to Dowling, “At first she stated she did not and then stated that she has a lot of numbers connected to her campaign that were similar in nomenclature and it could be one of hers but she was not sure.”
On Thursday, Emmanuel Morel appeared on the Race And The Races webcast hosted by Narnike Grant and Sandra Cherfrere. Just minutes into the show, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick joined the show. She said she was “at a wedding” but wanted to respond to Morel.
Cherfilus-Mccormick said, “No one at my campaign has contacted or spoke to [Morel].”
She said, “The number you put out is actually another employee’s number…she’s been getting threats and had to cancel her line.”
Cherfilus-McCormick said she discussed the matter with her parents. “No one threatened you. And because of that, we are pursuing legal, um, against you for slander and for going on every show and talking.”
Then, Cherfilus-McCormick attacked Elvin Dowling for tipping off REDBROWARD about the matter. “Elvin Dowling called some kind of Republican blogger who insert themselves into a Democratic primary is disgusting,” she said.
Under questioning, Cherfilus-McCormick told Narnike Grant that her parents did speak with Morel. She said Morel was discussed at a weekend meeting between her parents and Haitian ministers. According to Cherfilus-McCormick, someone at that meeting said, “someone should talk to Morel.”
When Cherfilus-McCormick insisted no one from her “campaign” called Morel, host Sandra Cherfrere asked if the phone belonged to a Trinity Health employee. Cherfilus-McCormick stated the phone was assigned to “nurses or staff” and the Caller ID would appear as “Trinity.”
She admitted the call came from that number.
The Sun-Sentinel interview occurred Wednesday afternoon. Elvin Dowling contacted REDBROWARD at 5:48PM on Wednesday. REDBROWARD called the Trinity cell phone at 7:10PM. A telephone company recording stated the number was no longer in service. The REDBROWARD story was published minutes later.
How could the Trinity employee receive “threats” if the number was already out of service before the world knew the number?
Why were Cherfilus-McCormick’s parents calling another candidate in the first place?
While they may not be campaign employees, Cherfilus-McCormick’s father and mother wore campaign shirts at a candidate debate on Friday evening at the University of Fort Lauderdale.
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.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick loves to tell voters she is a “lifelong” resident of Miramar. Cherfilus-McCormick is seeking to replace the late Alcee Hastings in the US House of Representatives. The district includes Miramar and other west Broward cities as well as parts of Palm Beach. Yet records show, Cherfilus’ husband and stepson live in Maryland home owned by her parents.
In September 2017, Shelia Cherfilus-McCormick married Corlie McCormick, a former assistant Attorney General of Maryland. According to a bridal website, the bride and groom met while attending Howard University in Washington D.C. The wedding ceremony was held at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Property records for Anne Arundell county in Maryland show Cherfilus-McCormick’s parents, Dr. Gabriel Smith amd Marie Smith, purchased at home in July 2016. In September 2017, records show Gabriel Smith made a “non arms length” transfer of the property to EMS Investment Group LP. Maryland records show EMS Investment Group LP uses a Miramar address as its place of business.
Broward Property Appraiser records show this Miramar address is the home of Dr. Gabriel T. Smith and Marie Cherfilus Smith. State voter registration records show Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is registered to vote at this address.
CANDIDATE SAYS SHE HAS NOT LIVED WITH HUSBAND SINCE MARRIAGE
This is Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick‘s third attempt to win the CD 20 seat. She ran against Alcee Hastings in 2018 and 2020. During this time period, her husband opened The McCormick Law Firm LLC in Annapolis, Maryland. According to his website, Corlie McCormick practices law in Maryland, Washington D.C., The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Corlie McCormick does not practice law in Florida.
When REDBROWARD asked Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick where she lived, she said, “Miramar.” She denied living at the Gambrills, Maryland home with her husband. Cherfilus-McCormick stated she has never lived in the Maryland home. She admitted her parents owned the property. She claimed that EMS Investment Group was a “family trust” entity created to help her older parents consolidate their assets.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick she has not lived with husband since their September 2017. In fact, Cherfilus-McCormick revealed her husband lives in the Gambrills home with his son and her sister Marjorie Cherfilus.
When asked if she would live in the Maryland home if she is elected to Congress, Cherfilus-McCormick said, “no.”
Cherfilus-McCormick stated her husband has no plans to practice in law in the State of Florida.
Cherfilus-McCormick grew indignant when asked if she thought voters would believe she does not live with her husband, who lives with her sister, in a home owned by her family.
Cherfilus-McCormick ranted about reporters spreading lies and gossip about her. She asked for time to review records and documents and promised to contact REDBROWARD with an updated statement. Cherfilus-McCormick never called us back.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is not the first CD 20 candidate to face residency questions.
In 2013, an investigation by this reporter exposed then-State Rep. Perry Thurston’s flouting of the Florida Constitution’s residency requirements. Thurston admitted he lives outside his House district “when I want to.” Thurston’s admission added weight to evidence he lived outside the House district he represents, in violation of the Florida Constitution. Article III of the Florida Constitution requires state legislators to live in the districts they represent. WPLG LOCAL 10 reporter Bob Norman caught Thurston at the Plantation home he owns with his wife outside the House district he represents. Thurston represents House District 94 while living in House District 99 in Plantation.
Thurston claimed to be living with a convicted felon in a small home in Lauderhill, rather than with his wife and children in their two-story Plantation home. The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office determined Thurston “violated the law” by using the homestead tax exemption for his Plantation home while he claimed to be living in Lauderhill. The Property Appraiser removed Perry Thurston’s exemption.
Perry Thurston currently represents parts of Broward in the Florida Senate.
In May 2013, this reporter exposed Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness’ false claim that he reside in the district he represents. The evidence showed Holness lived outside the district he represents, though Article II, Section 2.01 A(3) of the Broward County Charter clearly states each commissioner “must be a resident of the particular district upon election.”
Holness claimed he lived in a run-down Lauderhill townhouse near the Florida Turnpike.
In May 2013, records from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections (SOE), stated Holness was registered to vote within District 9 by claiming to live in a small, older 940-square foot townhome in the Royal Oaks townhome development at 2630 N.W. 52nd Avenue in Lauderhill. Property records from the Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) show Holmes owns the small home but does not list it as his primary residence for his homestead tax exemption.
Property records listed the mailing address for Holness’ home as 4325 West Sunrise Blvd in Lauderhill. This is the business address for All Broward Realty, Inc., a company owned by Holness.
As Media Trackers Florida reported, the 2006 Central Lauderhill Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) master plan shows Lauderhill officials targeted the Royal Oaks for a dramatic makeover funded by federal and state grants. The plan says Royal Oaks is in disrepair and in need of landscaping upkeep. The entire neighborhood was part of an ambitious plan to build parks and improve roads and sewers. The Royal Oaks neighborhood was identified as properties suitable for acquisition, demolition and redevelopment[.]
As vice mayor of Lauderhill in 2006, Holness wrote the Central Lauderhill CRA master plan. Florida Department of State records show Holness has been an official of the Royal Oaks Condominium Association since 2000.
One month after our story, Bob Norman of Local 10 News visited Holness’ townhouse. Norman described the unit as, “A small run-down housing unit in Lauderhill stacked to the ceiling with furniture and boxes. A realtor’s locked box hangs from the door knob. The refrigerator isn’t plugged in and its door is wide open.”
“Nobody lives there,” said Herbert Fray, a handyman who tends the yards there.
Seeking answers, Bob Norman visited Holness at the Broward Government Center.
“Well, sir, we went to that home and there’s no way you live there. Do you live in your district?” asked Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman.
“I do,” Holness replied before leaving without answering any more questions.
Since those reports, Holness and his wife have moved to a home in the upscale Plantation neighborhood surrounding the Fort Lauderdale Country Club.
The residency requirements for US Congress are not as strict as the Florida Legislature. A candidate does not have to live in the congressional district. He is simplu required to live anywhere in the State.
Usually, a candidate will win a district and then relocate to the Washington D.C., returning on occasion for fundraising and photo opportunities.
In 2008, South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler made national headlines after reporters revealed he lived in Maryland with his family. Wexler told the Sun-Sentinel he grew tired of being a “weekend father” who commuted between Florida and Washington D.C. Wexler said he even though he relocated his family to Maryland, he “established my residency at my in-laws’ home in Delray Beach.”
Is Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick playing the same residency games as Robert Wexler, Perry Thurston and Dale Holness?
Will voters believe Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick has never lived under the same roof as the man she married four years ago?
Will CD 20 voters believe that Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick lives with her elderly parents in a Miramar home while her husband and sister live in a million-dollar home located in an affluent Washington D.C. suburb?