Florida House Of Reps Candidate Drops Out After It's Revealed She Lied About Treating Victims Of Pulse Nightclub Massacre

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Who Is Elizabeth McCarthy? New Details On Former Candidate For Office In Florida Who Lied About Treating Victims Of Pulse Nightclub Massacre

She seemed like the perfect candidate: a doctor and member of the LGBTQ+ community, she was even present in the emergency room on the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where she says she removed bullets from the bodies of the victims as she labored to save lives. This is the story Elizabeth McCarthy was telling friends and supporters as she ran for a seat in the Florida legislature.

None of it was true.

Just a few days after McCarthy filed paperwork to run for office, a site dedicated to covering Florida politics noted that she had never been a doctor. From there, evidence of her lies only grew. Who is Elizabeth McCarthy? Read on for all the details.

1. Pulse

In 2016, Omar Mateen walked into Pulse Nightclub in Orlando with a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. The nightclub, which was known as a destination for the LGBTQ+ community was hosting a popular Latin Night and 320 people were in the room when Mateen arrived. Mateen claimed allegiance to ISIS and claimed the shooting was in retaliation for U.S. involvement in Iraq. The FBI officially designated it a terrorist attack, though it appeared Mateen was working alone and did not have an actual connection to ISIS; it was a case of influence, not association.

By the end of the night, the shooting had become the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ+ people in U.S. history and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in U.S. history.

Forty-nine poeple died in the massacre.

2. Emergency room

The Pulse shooting haunts the memories of everyone involved, including, allegedly, Elizabeth McCarthy. At a gun safety event in March, McCarthy told the crowd about being a doctor in the hospital where victims were treated that night. “It was one of hardest things to work through in my career,” McCarthy said in a video event. “That night of Pulse, I personally removed 77 bullets from 32 victims. It was like an assembly line.”

The Orlando Sentinal reports that she went on to talk about her emotional response to the events, saying: “That night, because I’m gay, it struck me even harder because these were my people…The hardest part for me was wheeling a body into the morgue and hearing the cell phones ring of the people that passed.”

She claimed to be a doctor.

3. Political associations

McCarthy registered her campaign for office shortly after the event but she has been active in Democratic circles for a while. In particular, she has a relationship with the office of U.S. Representative Darren Soto, who posted a video of her remarks on his own Facebook page. In June, she appeared at one of his events and he introduced her as an advisor on health care issues and described her as “a doctor who showed her mettle and heroism after the Pulse nightclub shooting,” according to the Washington Post.  In addition to her work with Soto, she had been the legislative director for the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus, and federal chair of the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida, though she is no longer listed on the web pages for either organization. She was also a member of onePULSE Foundation Memorial Task Force, though that organization no longer mentions her on their site either.

She has been active in politics for years. 

RELATED: Stories About The Pulse Shooting By Survivors, Parents And First Responders In Their Own Words

4. Scrutiny

Shortly after her appearance at Representative Soto’s event, a site called Florida Politics posted a story questioning her professional background. While McCarthy was presenting herself as a cardiologist at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Florida Politics found no record of her ever having been licensed to practice medicine. The site reached out to Orlando Health, the parent company of Orlando Regional Medical Center and they had no record of her ever having worked there in any capacity, much less of her having been part of the emergency team on the night of the PULSE shooting. Moreover, McCarthy claimed that she started her career as a nurse, which can be verified. She had a nursing license until it expired in 2005. She says she then went to medical school at the University of Central Florida, graduating with her MD in 2014. The university has no such record of her. Even her claims of a bachelors degree from the University of Florida don’t check out; that university can’t confirm her graduation or attendance either.

Scrutiny arose after her appearance in March.

5. Denial

McCarthy’s first instinct was to stick with her story. She told Florida Politics that she had “no idea” why her schools and the state didn’t confirm her claims. She indicated that whoever was saying she wasn’t a doctor was lying and “Whoever is saying these things, their credibility will fall … once the truth comes out,” she said.

She's in trouble with the Health Department.

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RELATED: We Must Never Forget The Beautiful Souls Lost One Year Ago In The Pulse Shooting

6. Distancing

Once the questions came out about her credentials, the Florida Democrat said that they tried to verify her background but she stonewalled them. “We asked for any kind of transcripts, diplomas, anything like that, that could explain what she did,” Seminole County Democratic Party Chairwoman Brittany Nethers told the Orlando Sentinel in June. “She pretty much said that she doesn’t need to provide us with anything.”

Representative Soto also distanced himself from his one-time advisor saying: “I am deeply disappointed by Ms. 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.”

7. “I lied.”

The Health Department investigated McCarthy because impersonating a doctor is a violation of Florida law. In a report released this week, the Health Department says that they plan to fine her $1,000, plus costs. The department also is serving her with a cease-and-desist order, to stop her from saying that she is a medical doctor in the future, according to Florida Politics.

McCarthy is now openly admitting that she lied, saying: “I wanted to be somebody in the community, and I’m sorry. 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.”

Her whole story was a lie.

McCarthy has suspended her campaign as of late June. It seems safe to speculate that she will never hold office.  

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.