ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – During Florida House District 44 candidate Rita Harris’s interview at the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida’s candidate forum last week, moderated by WESH 2’s Greg Fox, the topic of small business came up, but just barely–as it relates to her husband, but not her own experience, and she didn’t mention her own employment history.
District 44’s heavy business presence–the I-Drive corridor, Universal Orlando Resort (including Epic Universe, which is currently under construction), Sea World, the Orange County Convention Center, hotels, the Orlando International Airport, much of Orlando’s manufacturing and warehousing industry corridor, as well as many small businesses–will demand the lion’s share of attention from whoever takes the seat in Tallahassee. Harris’s indirect business ownership reference during the candidate forum raised some red flags.
So Florida National News took a closer look.
Small Business Experience
During her introduction at the Tiger Bay Club’s candidate forum, Harris mentioned she was the wife of a small business owner and the daughter of two working class parents (her mother was a registered nurse and her father was a phone company employee in New York), but she failed to disclose that she’s a CEO. According to her LinkedIn profile, she’s held Sales Executive and CEO roles at her husband’s company, Harris Cloud Consulting, LLC for nearly seven years.
Her LinkedIn profile also lists her role as Events Committee Chair with the Orange County Democratic Party from October 2018 to now and content writing experience with Verblio from June 2018 to now.
That is, on one of her LinkedIn profiles–with the Harris Cloud Consulting logo as the profile photo.
As it turns out, Harris also has a second LinkedIn profile (with a profile photo of herself) in which she is listed as a self-employed freelance writer with no time frame or companies referenced.
None of her employment history is listed on her campaign website or campaign social media pages.
So what is she hiding?
The Harrises’ Failed (and Struggling) Businesses
According to the Florida Division of Corporations, Harris is listed as a managing member for Kronos Unlimited, LLC, which was formed on March 13, 2012 and dissolved on September 25, 2015.
According to the Florida Division of Corporations, the Harrises also formed Salesforce.com Overflow Services, LLC back on March 22, 2013 and dissolved on September 28, 2018.
Harris Cloud Consulting, LLC, the company for which she’s currently listed as CEO on LinkedIn, was formed on November 21, 2016. While there was an annual report submitted April of the following year, there is an unexplained gap between April 2017 and a reinstatement report filed on November 10, 2021.
But it’s the financial disclosure Harris filed to qualify with the Florida Division of Elections that raises the most red flags.
Harris’s Financial Challenges
In her filings with the Florida Division of Elections, Harris lists two small business entities, but in the section that asks what her role is in the companies, she answers “spouse is a partner” for the first one (Valeo Cloud Consulting, LLC) and “spouse owns” for the second one (Harris Cloud Consulting, LLC), but never mentions her own position in either company, despite listing herself as CEO for Harris Cloud Consulting on LinkedIn.
The disclosure also sheds light on Harris’s massive federal IRS tax debt which, depending on how the corrected number on the report is read, is either a whopping $78,000 or worse, $178,000.
In addition to Harris’s federal tax debt, there’s a massive discrepancy with the address of one the companies listed in the financial disclosure. Valeo Cloud Consulting, LLC, the company in which Harris indicated her spouse is a partner, is listed in the documents with the address 6213 Lafferre Lane Hilliard, FL 43206. Florida National News searched the Florida Division of Corporations and found Valeo Cloud Consulting, LLC is in fact registered here in Florida with that very address on file.
Two major red flags there: 1) 43206 is not a Florida zip code, and 2) The street address, 6213 Lafferre Lane, is not in Florida either. Both are in Ohio, which is where Valeo Cloud Consulting, LLC is truly located, based on the company’s website and LinkedIn profile. Yes, there is a Hilliard, Florida–it’s located near the Florida-Georgia line–but neither the company’s street address nor zip code can be found there.
Keep in mind, this questionable address is used on a notarized form filed with the Florida Division of Elections.
Harris is the Democratic Party establishment candidate, having been the founding president of the Democratic Women’s Club of South Orange County and, most recently, the former Orange County Democratic Party Vice Chair. According to her campaign website, her campaign has received endorsements from former State Rep. and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, State Attorney Monique Worrell, State Senators Jason Pizzo and Victor Torres, Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado, Orange County School Board member and HD 43 candidate Johanna Lopez, Orange County School Board member Karen Castor Dentel, Congressional candidate Maxwell Frost, and State Rep. Travaris McCurdy. While not listed on her campaign website, Florida Politics reports that she received an endorsement from fellow activist and establishment Democrat Samuel Vilchez Santiago (who ran against Harris’s opponent State Rep. Daisy Morales in 2020), back in early June.
Organizational endorsements include the Florida College Democrats, Ruth’s List Florida, Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, the Florida Education Association, Families for Safe Schools, Democratic Public Education Caucus, the Florida Freedom to Read Project, and the Central Florida AFL-CIO, one of the state’s biggest unions.
Were these individuals and organizations aware of Harris’s failed businesses and IRS tax debt? Is this the new Democratic standard for its candidates? Will the voters support this new standard?
Between the questionable business address for Valeo Cloud Consulting, LLC, Harris’s federal tax debt, the occupational inconsistencies between Harris’s LinkedIn profiles, the Florida Division of Corporations listings and the dissolution or reinstatement of companies she’s been connected to, this begs the question: Would Harris be able to handle balancing a state budget and bringing funding back to District 44? Can she be trusted to be forthcoming with voters? So far the latter remains to be seen.
Voters will choose their House District 44 representative in the Democratic primary on August 23, 2022.
This is an ongoing story. Stay connected with Florida National News for more updates.
Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes.
Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County, had pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, also including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men.
“Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said in court Thursday.
Greenberg’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments, and that he believed additional ones were expected in the coming month.
Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into his friend Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against the Republican congressman, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing during a court hearing on Wednesday to a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. Presnell ended up imposing the upper limit of that range.
The minor in the sex crimes case was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller wrote in court papers.
The defense attorney also said that Greenberg “has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”
Scheller also had asked the judge to take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he had bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.
Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation.
Some documents related to Greenberg’s cooperation were filed under seal and out of the public eye, with prosecutors and the defense attorney saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.
“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.
Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.
“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”
“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.
For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Fire Chief Charlie Salazar Break Ground on Fire Station 11
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Orlando Fire Chief Charlie Salazar invite the Dover Shores community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Orlando Fire Department Station 11, “The Beast of the East.”
The new 14,918-square-foot station will be built at the corner of Curry Ford Road and Gaston Foster Road where the previous station was located. The state-of-the-art facility will provide Dover Shores and the surrounding neighborhoods with a modern facility, equipped with the latest in technology and space to accommodate multiple, specialized units and equipment.
The station will be home to 30 firefighters, house four bays, four units – an Engine, a Tower, a Rescue and a District Chief – and is designed to promote firefighter health and safety while providing top-rated service, functionality and rapid response times to the community it serves. The modern facility features new technology that further enhances station operations, including:
- Individual crew bunk rooms and restrooms to accommodate and promote diversity in the workplace.
- A decontamination room with a shower and two airlocks with pressurization to further keep potential carcinogens out of the living quarters.
- Sleeping quarters and active crew quarters that have acoustic separation to allow for rest, recuperation and camaraderie.
- Escalating emergency tones to reduce fatigue and heart-rate response.
- Physical agility rooms that promote a healthy lifestyle for top firefighter performance.
- Open kitchens and dining rooms to allow for the crew to cook and eat together.
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