The House Ethics Committee announced it would investigate whether Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Democrat of Florida, violated campaign finance laws, among other allegations.
An investigative subcommittee will examine whether “she may have violated campaign finance laws and regulations in connection with her 2022 special elections and/or her 2022 re-election campaigns; failed to properly disclose required information on statements required to be filed with the House; and/or accepted voluntary services for official work from a person not employed in his or her congressional office,” according to a statement released Wednesday.
Cherfilus-McCormick was elected in January 2022 to fill the seat vacated by the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. The Ethics Committee voted unanimously to investigate the accusations against the Florida lawmaker after obtaining a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent agency that investigates complaints of misconduct.
Rep. Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., is expected to lead the subcommittee. Wednesday’s statement offered no further details.
Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick vowed not to directly fund the sugar industry
Cherfilus-McCormick, the owner of a home health care company, won a hotly contested Democratic primary race in November 2021. It was during that race that questions first surfaced about finances and his campaign files. Yet she defeated Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and out of a total of 23,319 ballots cast in the special election for Florida’s 20th Congressional District.
She then handily defeated Republican Jason Mariner in the solidly Democratic area in January 2022. Cherfilus-McCormick retained her seat 10 months later in that year’s midterm elections.
In running for this seat, Cherfilus-McCormick signed a pledge pledging not to accept direct campaign contributions from the sugar industry, unlike her predecessor, Hastings, whose campaigns were always well supported by donations from the sugar industry.
Continued security improvements and immigration reform
On Capitol Hill, she worked on a wide range of legislation during her nearly two years in Congress.
In August 2022, she joined fellow Florida lawmakers Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, and Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, Republican of Florida, to announce a $25 million grant for improvements safety on Brightline’s rail tracks.
In January, she spoke out after the Biden administration revealed a proposed southern border that would allow 30,000 immigrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the country and work legally for two years.
Cherfilus-McCormick, a Haitian-American, urged her colleagues on Capitol Hill to pursue more action. She said each of the countries listed in the Biden administration’s plan needed its own specific provisions because the nature of political instability differed from country to country. She also worries that many families will struggle to find a sponsor if they don’t have relatives or other close ties in the United States, as the rule requires.
While saying the administration’s plan was a “good first step,” she called for further changes.
“We’re trying to make sure that it’s fair for everyone who’s seeking asylum, and that it’s fair so that everyone has access to it,” Cherfilus-McCormick said at the time. “And that’s where we try to make sure we can get it right.”
A month later, she joined two other Democrats, U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff of California and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, in introducing legislation to prohibit schools receiving federal funding from collecting or requiring information regarding students’ menstrual cycles .
More:Palm Beach County accepts athlete registration forms without menstrual history questions
The PERIOD Act follows a decision by Florida athletic leaders to remove questions about athletes’ menstrual history from annual registration forms. An investigation by the Palm Beach Post found that 35 states, including Florida, ask athletes about their rules and require them to turn over their answers to their school districts during annual registration processes.
Cherfilus-McCormick has been a generally reliable Democratic voice in the U.S. House of Representatives and joined her colleagues in the historic vote to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in October.
A month later, however, she broke ranks with some of her South Florida Democratic colleagues by not supporting the censure of Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, R-Mich., the only Palestinian American in Congress, for her comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Cherfilus-McCormick said at the time that she rejected the slogan “from the river to the sea”, but feared that “the weaponization of these censorships is nothing more than a political game which does not solve the problems of our nation.”
Rick Christie, editor-in-chief of the Palm Beach Post, contributed to this report.
Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida network. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.
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