Miami Congressman Joe Garcia’s former chief of staff began serving a 90-day jail sentence last week, becoming the first person convicted for submitting hundreds of phony absentee-ballot requests online during last year’s elections.
But despite Jeffrey Garcia’s sentence, the investigation into the scheme isn’t over.
Still pending is what prosecutors from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle’s office will do about the campaign underlings who recruited their relatives to fill out the ballot request forms without voters’ permission.
Attorneys for campaign manager John Estes and volunteer Giancarlo Sopo — who later became the congressman’s communications director — argue their clients were victims lied to and manipulated by Jeffrey Garcia, who they say was pulling the campaign strings even though he held no official title other than “consultant.”
Both young men had asked Garcia up front if it was OK to file the online requests, the lawyers said. Each form required checking off a box affirming that the person making the request was the voter or an immediate family member.
“Jeffrey Garcia told my client that he had vetted this with an attorney, and that it was all fine,” said Gus Lage, Sopo’s attorney.