Cherfilus-McCormick is running to represent the Broward-Palm Beach County 20th Congressional District, one of poorest congressional districts in the country, with median household income far below the state and country. Cherfilus-McCormick said there’s absolutely no connection between the money she gave to her campaign and the company she leads receiving the federal aid. “There’s nothing dishonest about me,” she said. The vacancy was created by the April 6 death of longtime Congressman Alcee Hastings, but Cherfilus-McCormick had challenged him twice before in Democratic primaries and had decided to run again before he died.
The source and extent of Cherfilus-McCormick’s wealth isn’t clear. The Miramar resident is CEO of Trinity Health Care Services, a home health agency also based in Miramar. Cherfilus-McCormick hasn’t filed legally required financial disclosures that show a candidate’s income, assets and liabilities. “I’m not trying to buy a seat at all,” Cherfilus-McCormick said. “I have never played the political game of trying to buy people or anything. It’s always been a ground game and a people-centered campaign. But … I knew that other campaigns were going to take money from different donors and lobbyists.”
Trinity Health Care Services received $2.4 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to publicly available databases, including one maintained by the investigative news organization ProPublica. And, Cherfilus-McCormick said in a telephone interview, she’s prepared to put in more — up to another $1 million — if needed.
By contrast, only 11 candidates in the country put $250,000 or more of their own money into their campaigns from Jan. 1 through June 30. Cherfilus-McCormick’s $2.3 million makes her by far the biggest self-funder. Republican Steve Fanelli is in second place, putting a total of $645,000 into his Pennsylvania congressional campaign. For the entire 2019-2020 election cycle for the entire 435-member U.S. House of Representatives, OpenSecrets reported seven candidates spent more than the $2.3 million Cherfilus-McCormick has put into her race. OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics, fond 355 active House candidates who raised $250,000 or more from all sources during the first six months of 2021, senior researcher Douglas Weber said.
“I don’t believe that money wins campaigns,” Cherfilus-McCormick said. But her self-funding stands out. The 20th District is so overwhelmingly Democratic that the winner of the party’s Nov. 2 primary is almost guaranteed to win the Jan. 11 special election.
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