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

@PatriciaMazzei

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.

I share Congressman Joe Garcia's anger regarding absentee ballot requests in district 26 during last year's election. The Democratic Party also shares Congressman Garcia's zero-tolerance policy for gaming the electoral process and his firm commitment to reforming our broken absentee ballot system. This is not a partisan issue and the parties should unite in requiring a thorough investigation of all cases. There have been too many instances in recent years of ballot brokers, unfortunately used by candidates of both parties, at all levels, that have corroded public trust. As such, I reiterate my call to reform our broken absentee ballot system which I have long demanded. The citizens of Miami-Dade deserve a fair, transparent electoral system that they can trust. Anything less should be unacceptable regardless of party affiliation.

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