Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
A former candidate for a state Democratic house seat lied about being a doctor and treating Pulse victims, Florida health officials confirmed.
A report published Wednesday by the Florida Department of Public Health reveals Catherine Elizabeth McCarthy admitted to an investigator that she “just made it up.” The department ordered McCarthy to pay $3,094.95 in fines and costs for intentionally presenting herself as a doctor without an active license.
The report comes after McCarthy, who was running for a District 28 house seat, dropped out of the race at the end of June. The Seminole County Democratic Party withdrew their support of McCarthy as reports began to question her medical credentials
After 49 died at the Pulse nightclub shooting June 2016 in Orlando, McCarthy painted herself as a first responder during her campaign.
That is, until an investigator turned up at her Sanford home on July 9.
“Yes, I was working that night. I removed 77 bullets out of 32 people and helped with the triage,” McCarthy had claimed.
When an investor asked her about that specific statement, she said “It is a false statement, I just made it up.”
Throughout the campaign, she attended events with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, including one at Valencia Community College in Orlando. At a town hall in St. Cloud, Soto introduced her as as "a cardiologist with Orlando Health Regional Hospital, a longtime adviser on health care for him, and a doctor who showed her mettle and heroism after the Pulse nightclub shooting," according to the health department report.
"It was like an assembly line," McCarthy said at that event. "That night, because I’m gay, it struck me even harder because these were my people."
Florida Politics' Scott Powers interviewed McCarthy immediately after the town hall requesting credentials, which she was unable to provide. Rep. Soto later issued a statement decrying McCarthy's "sick fabrications."
"She was a longtime friend of several staff members. She had been presented by them and by several local Democratic and LGBT organizations as being a doctor. We have updated our internal protocols to require proof of licensure by any professional who may potentially work with our office," said Soto.
McCarthy had defended herself up until her admission to health officials, once saying, “Whoever is saying these things, their credibility will fall once the truth comes out."
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.