She claimed to be a doctor who treated Pulse nightclub massacre victims.
It was one of the pieces of her past she felt gave her credibility in her run for the Florida House of Representatives in the Orlando area.
Now the truth has come out – she made it all up.
Elizabeth McCarthy, a gay Democrat politician, confessed to Florida Department of Health officials that she made up claims of being a cardiologist who treated victims of the mass shooting inside a gay nightclub.
Truth is… she wasn’t a doctor at all.
“It is a false statement. I just made it up,” McCarthy said.
That’s according to an affidavit released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Health.
Prior to announcing her run, McCarthy worked as the legislative director for the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus.
She filed earlier this year to run for the Florida House of Representatives in the Orlando area, campaigning in part on a claim that she worked at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, including the night of the June 2016 Pulse attack.
The 50-year-old was hailed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto as a hero, and he said she’s someone who advises him on health care issues.
But things didn’t add up, and a Florida Politics investigation into her credentials blew her cover.
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Turns out ORMC said it had no record of her working there as a cardiologist. On top of that, her claim that she was employed at the time by Florida Heart Group of Orlando turned out to be false as well. That company also had no record of her.
She said she earned a medical degree from the University of Central Florida in 2014, transitioning from nursing to cardiology.
She didn’t. The school had no record of her earning a degree.
McCarthy said she has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State, but that school could not find a degree in her name. When asked to explain why her stories don’t check out?
“I have no idea,” McCarthy said.
It seems she’s got quite the history of providing false information. She initially drew some Florida sports cross-rivalry respect by bragging she was a point guard on the University of Florida women’s basketball teams of 1989 and ’90, and then transferred to Florida State, where she played the point for the Seminoles in 1991-92.
Here’s the thing. Neither the UF nor the FSU athletic departments have records of anyone by that name ever playing for the Gators or the Seminoles.
She claims she left Florida Heart Group to work for Nielsen, the ratings service.
“Yes, I am a doctor,” McCarthy insisted. “Yes, I do work for Nielsen. Yes, I did work the night of Pulse.”
McCarthy said she would put out a statement explaining what was going on.
“Whoever is saying these things, their credibility will fall … once the truth comes out,” she said.
She was ripping mad that her credibility was questioned, and said she was caught completely off-guard by the allegations. She asked Florida Politics to withhold publication of a story until she put out her statement. They denied her.
“It hurts me; it really does. First of all, why would I make something like this up?” she said. “I was an RN for 25 years. I’ve been in the medical field all my life.”
According to the Florida Department of Health, her license as a nurse expired in 2005 and she was never a licensed doctor.
After that, she started a company called Medical Concierge Inc., which state records show was in business from 2009 through 2014.
“It does not look like she was ever a licensed doctor, but she does have a background in health care,” said Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton.
McCarthy filed her paperwork on March 27 to be a Democratic candidate for House District 28, to represent northeast Seminole County, putting her in competition with Republican state Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs.
She recently joined Soto for a news conference in Saint Cloud. There, they about health care issues and the need for support for a variety of federal bills, notably several dealing with drug pricing, which Soto is supporting.
It was not the first time she has appeared at a Soto event supporting his policy positions – it just happens to be one where he introduced her as:
“A cardiologist with Orlando Health, a longtime adviser on health care for me, and also a doctor who showed her mettle and heroism after the Pulse nightclub shooting.”
Soto’s office was asked to comment on her credentials. They, of course, declined.
“With my patients, whether in the emergency room, in the hospital, or in my office,” McCarthy said at the news conference.
“Before a patient walks through the door for an examination, I know what I can spend on their medical expenses for the year. And if I go over, based on the type of insurance, Medicare, Medicare, that they have, it determines how well we can fill those prescriptions, every month, every six months, every 90 days. And then patients are vulnerable enough as it is because they don’t feel good. And that’s why you come to a doctor.”
When called out, she at first doubled down on her story.
“Yes, I was working that night. I removed 77 bullets out of 32 people, and helped with the triage,” she told Florida Politics. “It is really sad that this has become such a big deal.”
But as the Department of Health launched an investigation into her claims, she dropped out of the state House race and told investigators she was “portraying a life that wasn’t true.”
“I wanted to be somebody in the community, and I’m sorry,” she said, according to the affidavit. “I’m sorry that I gave any impersonation. I knew it was wrong and I should have stopped — by no means did I ever mean to put anybody in jeopardy.”
She’s now being charged by the Florida agency with violating the state’s unlicensed activity laws for lying about being a doctor.
She’s been slapped with a fine of more than $3,000 and has been forbidden from making the claim in the future.
She has a month to appeal and ask for a hearing on the matter.