A candidate for the state legislature who has positioned herself as an actively serving national guard officer and the leader of a non-profit charity for foster children was forced to file an amended financial disclosure after after initially failing to list more than $88,000 in income. Financial disclosures, including sources of income, are required when a candidate files to run for public office in Florida.
The candidate, Christina Meredith, is running as a Republican in House District 17, which comprises the southeastern quadrant of Jacksonville and the suburbs in Duval County. She is a former beauty contest winner who has appeared in a number of media stories in recent years talking about her unlikely rise from foster child to being crowned Miss California. In various promotional materials, including her published autobiography, she talks about her charity work at the foundation she started, but the charity has no income and no visible operation.
Outside of a promotional book tour and other paid speaking appearances about the challenges faced by foster children, there is no evidence that her foundation does anything specific to improve the lives of foster children. There is no documentation showing that the Christina Meredith Foundation is currently active in Florida – or anywhere else – and it is not registered to solicit financial contributions in the state. A page on Meredith’s foundation website purports to show the charity’s headquarters, but that building doesn’t actually exist. The photo is a computer rendering.
When pressed for details about how her foundation actually helps foster children, Meredith’s campaign issued a written statement:
“The foundation partners with other organizations in support of breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse after leaving foster care and raises national awareness for statistical outcomes for aged-out foster youth to further positive change for young adults.”
A campaign spokesman did not elaborate.
Federal records show that in 2019, the last year for which complete records were available, Meredith’s foundation reported income of just $500, and a federal filing for 2020 shows that the foundation didn’t collect enough money to require the amount to be reported. Her campaign acknowledged in an email that the charity has no outside contributions.
Beyond her claimed charity work, on her website, on Facebook, and in campaign announcements, Meredith has also positioned herself as actively serving as a “company commander in the Florida National Guard,” which triggered questions from The Capitolist about why she failed to disclose any income from her National Guard service. Reached by email, her campaign acknowledged that she made a mistake on the initial “Form 6” financial disclosure paperwork and said it would file an amended disclosure listing the missing income. Her campaign also stated that Meredith was currently on maternity leave and was not currently in active service with the National Guard.
Meredith’s amended financial disclosure document now shows just over $88,000 in previously unreported income. In addition to her National Guard payments, she also received $33,000 from APB Speakers, apparently as payments for media appearances or speaking fees, and another $8,310 in payments to a private company she owns called American Grit, LLC.