Democratic Candidate Ends Campaign After Mass Shooting Story Gets Fact Checked


If you’re a political candidate, it helps to have a good story or two to tell on the stump, particularly about one of the issues of the day. It helps a lot more if that story is true.

If the story involves one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, getting the second part wrong could end your candidacy entirely — particularly if you’re using it to push for “gun safety.”

That’s at least what happened to Elizabeth McCarthy, a Democratic candidate for Florida’s House of Representatives. Well, former Democratic candidate. McCarthy has stepped aside after a claim that she removed “77 bullets” from victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016 in her role as a physician seems to have been falsified.

It’s not just that the media discovered discrepancies in her story regarding the removal of the bullets. It’s that, according to the news website Florida Politics, neither the Florida Department of Health nor the hospital she was allegedly working at have any record of a physician named Elizabeth McCarthy.

Back in March, McCarthy — the legislative director of the Florida Democratic Party’s LGBTA Caucus — filed her paperwork to run in Florida’s House District 28.

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The controversy began that same month when she appeared with Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who represents Florida’s 9th District, at a gun safety town hall in Orlando, where the shooting occurred.

According to the New York Post, McCarthy also appeared with a survivor of the Pulse shooting, where 49 people were killed and another 53 were wounded. Soto introduced her as a physician.

“It’s an honor to be in the medical field,” McCarthy said at the event, the Post reported.

“I love what I do. I love helping people and giving better options to people — that’s the best way I can say it.”

McCarthy told the audience that she was working with Orlando Health. That’s the parent company of the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where many of the victims were sent.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things of my career to work through,” McCarthy said, according to the Post. “I personally removed 77 bullets from 32 victims … It was like an assembly line.”

This wasn’t the only time — or the last time — Soto said McCarthy was a physician.

At a June event, he introduced McCarthy 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.”

Check out this WKMG report about McCarthy from Wednesday.

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On June 15, however, Florida Politics reported that “the Florida Department of Health has no record of her being licensed as a doctor.”

“Orlando Health, the parent company of Orlando Regional Medical Center, said there is no record of any doctor working there by her name, which (in full) is Catherine Elizabeth McCarthy.”

Neither of the schools that she claimed she graduated from — Florida State University and the University of Central Florida — had any record of her receiving a degree, according to Florida Politics.

She also claimed to have played basketball at both schools, which (surprise, surprise) didn’t check out either.

McCarthy was originally defensive, saying that she had “no idea” why her stories didn’t check out.

“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.”

“Whoever is saying these things, their credibility will fall … once the truth comes out,” she said.

Do you think that this candidate should have dropped out of the race?

The truth, however — at least as much of it as Florida Politics was able to ascertain — was that she was a registered nurse until 2005, when she left to start her own company called Medical Conceierge Inc.

In short, there was almost certainly no way that Elizabeth McCarthy was working at the Orlando Regional Medical Center on the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Last week, McCarthy withdrew from the race.

“After thoughtful contemplation, due to professional obligations, I am withdrawing as a Democratic candidate seeking the nomination and election in Florida House District 28,” she told Florida Politics in an email on Friday.

“These considerations have made it impossible for me to continue forward as a candidate, giving the campaign the attention it deserves, while also being able to provide the attention my work requires.”


I suppose McCarthy may have just been a serial liar and this incident just managed to expose it. However, there’s that part of me that suspects her contempt for our constitutional right to bear arms is so great that she’s literally willing to prevaricate about her entire professional background in order to undermine them.

And apparently, her story was so good that a U.S. representative wasn’t willing to fact-check it.

Yes, McCarthy should have stepped away. Yes, Soto should be getting more flak for this. In a perfect world, however, this wouldn’t be what we were talking about.

Have you heard the name Elizabeth McCarthy? Have you heard of Darren Soto? If so, even if you’re a news junkie, I’d be willing to bet you were from Soto’s congressional district.

This was a story that was buried in the media because they don’t think it was a big deal she lied to advance her agenda.

Watch someone pull a stunt like this on gun rights instead of gun control, however, and watch how fast they become a national name.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture