State House Candidate Rita Harris’s Records Reveal Thousands in IRS Tax Debt, Failed Businesses
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.
Brooks Koepka wins LIV Golf 2023 Orlando Tournament
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN Sports) – Brooks Koepka (-15) holds off Sebastian Muñoz (-14) to win the LIV Golf Tournament at Orange County National, the first time the new league came to Florida. This was the third event of the 2023 season. There will be ten more individual matches around the world before the 14th of the season, which will be a team competition.
LIV Golf, which bills itself as “Golf, but louder,” features several differences when compared to the traditions of the PGA. Golfers compete not only individually, but also as members of twelve teams of four. Teams are ranked after each event based on their top three scores. Those rankings will come into play for week fourteen of the season to determine seedings. In addition, if a golfer isn’t pulling his weight, he may be replaced as the season goes on. There could also be other roster changes, just like in other team sports.
In addition, LIV Golf events feature all sorts of interactive experiences at their Fan Village, where fans can compete in putting, chipping, and driving. Younger fans can watch shows at the kids zone, or can get temporary tattoos or face painting. Loud music blares before and after the tournament play, and there are plenty of food and beverage options for all. The tournament begins with a shotgun start around 1:00 p.m., and the action ends just over four hours later, unlike the PGA, where staggered tee times and more players means a longer day of golf. Also, LIV Golf events feature only three days and 54 holes (Roman numeral “LIV”) of action, compared to the PGA’s four days and 72 holes.
The PGA has already responded to LIV Golf, announcing that next year, there will be fewer golfers allowed to compete in designated events (about 70 players compared to the current 120), but that will mean higher payouts to the PGA golfers. LIV Golf has attracted many high profile golfers by guaranteeing minimum payouts to join the upstart league.
The next LIV Golf event will take place April 21-23 in Adelaide, Australia. Meanwhile, The PGA’s Masters Tournament tees off April 6-9 in Augusta, Georgia. Stay tuned to Florida National News for more.
Magic Beat Raptors for Second Win in a Row
ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Orlando Magic (7-20) continued their winning ways against the Toronto Raptors (13-13), defeating them 113-109 , just two days after a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. This two game winning streak puts an end to the Magic’s previous nine game losing streak.
The Magic started strong, taking a 37-25 lead into the second quarter, led by 10 first quarter points from Franz Wagner. But the Raptors caught up to the Magic midway through the second quarter led by Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. But at halftime, the Magic held a slight lead, 67-63.
The Magic extended their lead to 94-87 with remarkably impressive scoring from Franz Wagner who added 14 points in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors tied it up 108-108 with about two minutes remaining after two free throws by OG Anunoby. Paolo Banchero made one of two subsequent free throws, and Moe Wagner drew the charge from Gary Trent Jr. to negate his two point basket. Fred Van Vleet later added a free throw to tie the game at 109-109. A Franz Wagner tip layup put the Magic up 111-109. A missed shot by Fred Van Vleet sealed the Raptors loss. Banchero’s two free throws put the Magic ahead 113-109 at the end of the game.
Franz Wagner led the scoring for the Magic with 34 points, while Paolo Banchero scored 23. Mo Bamba finished with 13 rebounds. Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz ended with 5 assists.
Several Magic players remain injured and were unable to play, including Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee recovery). Isaac has started his rehab program, playing in full contact 5 on 5 practice games with the Lakeland G League affiliate, and hopes to return to the court soon for Orlando.
The Magic face the Raptors at Amway once again on Sunday, 12/11 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.
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.
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