In November 2014, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel ran a story with the headline reading in part, “Broward’s Sharief to admit guilt.”
The article concerns inaccurate financial disclosures filed by Barbara Sharief and reports that she pleaded guilty and admitted she “broke the law and will pay a fine.”
The story goes on to say, “(S)he broke the law and violated the state Constitution in her financial disclosure filings in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and will pay a $1,000 fine for each violation.”
But that wasn’t the first time the Sun-Sentinel ran a cringe-worthy headline. In September 2013, the paper exclaimed, “Broward vice mayor’s company overbilled Medicaid nearly $500,000.”
The overbilling was conducted by “providing services to multiple patients treated at the same location, for providing private nurses to patients at the same location, and for billing rates for a registered nurse rather than a licensed practical nurse.”
That article notes that Sharief signed an agreement to repay the state $540,328 over three years, a total that includes additional fines and fees.
The Sun-Sentinel wasn’t alone. Here’s how ABC Local 10 put it: “Broward vice mayor’s health care company violated Medicaid laws” and “the state has asked her to pay back more than $800,000 between audits and fines.”
There is more…
On March 11, 2018, the Miami-Herald ran a story explaining how Broward County Commissioners voted to give, “tax breaks for maker of Russian AK-47.” Sharief voted with the majority.
And a couple weeks later, the Sun-Sentinel also penned an editorial about the use of those tax dollars to lure the gunmaker to Broward, “Money for AK-47’s? No more shady deals.”
One could easily see why these would be painful realities for a candidate running in a primary in Democrat-rich Broward County.
And of course, that candidate would be Barbara Sharief.
So, what does Sharief do?
Does she defend her votes, her actions, the facts — the undeniable facts — that she was forced to pay hundreds of thousands in fees and fines due to systemic overcharges to Medicaid? That she did plead guilty to ethics charges? That she did vote to use tax dollars to incentivize a gun maker to move to Broward County?
Sharief is taking the extreme measure — one might call it a political gimmick — of suing her opponent, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book in what simply has to be the most absurd and desperate suit of this all-too-crazy election cycle.
In her suit, the Senate District 35 candidate claims all sorts of mischief including “falsity,” “defamation” and “libel” even though the communications in question were ripped from the headlines, pun very much intended.
Sharief did vote to lure the makers of the AK-47 to Broward.
Sharief did over-bill Medicaid.
Sharief was forced to pay hundreds of thousands in fines and fees.
Sharief did plead guilty to ethics charges.
I am told by my election lawyer friends that truth is the best defense to slander and from where I sit, Sharief’s problems with Book are not that she is lying but that she is “truthing” about Sharief’s record.
And it is common knowledge that not only do these types of complaints take years to work their way through the courts, but that the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant knew at the time that what they (or their agents) said was false. With headlines like those, I also believe that would be an almost impossible standard to meet. But what do I know?
It is said in the world of law that if you have the facts on your side, you should pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither, pound the table.
Not to get too kitschy, but it appears that Barbara Sharief can’t handle the truth and without either facts or law, she’s doing a lot of table banging.