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6 posts from June 1, 2013

June 01, 2013

Read Rep. Joe Garcia's statement on absentee-ballot investigation tied to his office


After Saturday's press conference regarding the dismissal of his chief of staff over a fraudulent absentee-ballot scheme, Congressman Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, issued the following statement:

I cannot express how shocked, disappointed and deeply saddened I am about the actions of my former Chief of Staff. Yesterday was the first I had heard of this, and as soon as I found out I relieved Jeffrey Garcia of his role immediately.

South Florida families need to know that I am committed to the public trust and will be diligent about getting to the bottom of this matter. 

I have hired William Barzee to launch an internal investigation into the matter.  I will also fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation being done by the authorities. 

While I am deeply disappointed in this attempt to influence the primary election, it's important to note that no ballot was touched and the integrity of the election remains intact. My focus continues to be working for the people of Florida’s 26th District.

UPDATED Democrat calls for 'thorough' investigation into ballot scheme involving Rep. Joe Garcia's staff


As Congressman Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, gave a press conference Saturday addressing his staff's role in a plot to submit fraudulent absentee-ballot requests, someone slipped into the back of the room.

It was Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. She, along with other party members, stood in Garcia's office in a show of support.

"I share in Congressman Garcia's anger, and I'm disappointed," Taddeo-Goldstein later told The Miami Herald. "I hope that what we get out of this is a thorough investigation of all the absentee-ballot tampering that has been going on for a long time."

Taddeo-Goldstein, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008, said as a candidate she learned of political operatives who promised to deliver scores of absentee votes.

"I was approached by people in 2008, and I said, 'No, I prefer to lose than to do that,'" she said. "Anybody who runs knows that these things exist, and it's unacceptable. We're never going to gain the public's trust if we don't fix this."

Taddeo-Goldstein said she learned that Garcia had dismissed his chief of staff and that another one of his employees and a former campaign manager had been served search warrants after getting a call from a reporter Friday. (Ouch.)

"Obviously, he's a friend of mine, and I believe in being a friend always -- not just during good times," she added of Garcia.

UPDATE: Read Taddeo-Goldstein's written statement on the matter below.

Continue reading "UPDATED Democrat calls for 'thorough' investigation into ballot scheme involving Rep. Joe Garcia's staff" »

National Republicans question Joe Garcia's involvement in ballot scandal


The National Republican Congressional Committee on Saturday questioned Congressman Joe Garcia's assertion that he didn't know some of his campaign workers apparently orchestrated a fraudulent absentee-ballot request scheme.

"This latest report of an alleged ballot fraud scandal surrounding Congressman Joe Garcia is very troubling," NRCC spokeswoman Katie Brill said in a written statement. "While voters deserve the truth, Congressman Garcia left a lot of questions unanswered. Floridians deserve to know what Congressman Joe Garcia knew about this voter fraud scheme and when did he know it."

The national attention comes after other local Republicans, including the Miami-Dade GOP chairman and potential Garcia opponent Carlos Curbelo have also called for further investigating on the congressman's involvement.

Miami-Dade mayor meets David Beckham

@PatriciaMazzei Photo (7)

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez met international soccer superstar David Beckham on Saturday at Florida International University and presented him with a key to the county, Miami Herald soccer reporter Michelle Kaufman reports.

Beckham, who appears to have an interest in bringing a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami, also met with Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz and other local officials who showed off the stadium and touted the county's large Hispanic population (read: potential soccer fans).

Gimenez, who supports having an MLS team in Miami, is scheduled to meet Monday with Mauricio Claure, the Bolivian billionaire trying to make Miami an expansion city for the league.

More here.

Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County.

Joe Garcia: 'Flawed' absentee-voting system, 'reckless abandon' contributed to ballot scandal


Congressman Joe Garcia on Saturday attempted to control the damage inflicted on his office a day earlier, when he dismissed his chief of staff for apparently orchestrating a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.

In a news conference held at his West Miami-Dade office Saturday morning, Garcia, a Democrat, maintained that he had no knowledge of the failed plot during last year’s primary election. He said he learned about his campaign’s involvement only the previous afternoon from chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia, who is unrelated to the congressman and has long served as his top political strategist.

“I cannot stress how angry I am at these events,” Joe Garcia said Saturday.

He called the plot “ill-conceived” but added: “I think it was a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout.”

Garcia said he had been on stage early Friday afternoon at John A. Ferguson Senior High School in West Kendall, shaking the hands of hundreds of graduates, when he began to get word that something was amiss.

Earlier Friday, law enforcement officers had raided the family homes of his communications director, Giancarlo Sopo, 30, and his former campaign manager, John Estes, 26, searching for computers and other electronic equipment in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office into the phantom ballot requests.

After the graduation ceremony, Garcia said he met with Jeffrey Garcia, 40, who took responsibility for the scheme. He then resigned at the congressman’s request.

Friday’s precipitous events came three months after a Miami Herald investigation found that hundreds of 2,552 fraudulent online requests for the Aug. 14 primaries originated from mystery hackers using Internet Protocol addresses in Miami. The Herald found those requests were clustered and targeted Democratic voters in Congressional District 26, which stretches from Kendall to Key West and where Garcia was competing against three other candidates.

More here.

Miami-Dade Republicans start the drumbeat: "What did Joe Garcia really know?"


The absentee ballot-request-fraud scandal engulfing Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia's chief of staff, campaign chief and congressional emplyoee will be a top campaign issue in 2014. Garcia, who said he was unaware of the potentially illegal activity, was already seen as vulnerable by Republicans for the South Florida seat that stretches from Miami-Dade to Key West. Now they're sharpening their blades.

Here's last night's statement from Miami-Dade Republican Chairman Nelson Diaz:

The ugly truth has finally come out about Democrat Joe Garcia's employees doing everything they can to rig his election. We should all be demanding answers from Joe Garcia himself. How much did Joe Garcia really know about his Top strategist's fraudulent actions in an attempt to cheat the voters of District 26? Was Joe Garcia himself involved in fraudulent actions? Should his entire election be thrown out? The public demands answers and deserves nothing but the truth from Joe Garcia. We expect that a full of investigation will be conducted to determine whether Joe Garcia had any knowledge of his top strategists' election rigging activities or if Joe Garcia was himself involved in cheating his way into Congress.