October 14, 2014

Republicans use Miami Rep. Joe Garcia's own words against him in new 'scandal' ad


Joe Garcia won his South Florida congressional seat two years ago in part by attacking then-Rep. David Rivera, who was plagued by state and federal investigations, on his integrity.

Now Carlos Curbelo is trying to the same thing against Garcia -- and his supporters have the congressman's own words to use against him.

Republicans on Tuesday revealed a television advertisement that extensively quotes a 2012 spot by Garcia. It's the second 2014 campaign spot in which conservatives accuse Garcia of hypocrisy by attacking him with his own promises. One was launched last week by the American Action Network.

The latest piece, by the National Republican Congressional Committee, cites Garcia decrying "Scandals. Corruption. Partisan infighting."

"I say enough is enough," Garcia says.

Then comes the voice-over: "Joe Garcia's only added to the lies and scandals."

That refers to a state investigation that led Garcia's former chief of staff to plead guilty to attempted absentee-ballot manipulation, and to an ongoing federal investigation into Garcia's 2010 campaign over a suspected straw candidate.

"Corrupt Congressman Joe Garcia ran on a promise that he would end corruption in South Florida," NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill said in a statement. "Seems laughable now knowing Garcia has two criminal investigations into his 2010 and 2012 campaigns."

The ad also refers to Garcia's "misleading ads" rated False by PolitiFact Florida. Unmentioned is that the fact-checkers have made the same ruling against Curbelo.


October 13, 2014

Insults fly between Miami GOP congressional candidate and former Republican foe


Ed MacDougall, the Cutler Bay mayor who came a distant second to Carlos Curbelo in the Republican primary for Florida's 26th congressional district, has told acquaintances not to vote for Curbelo in the Nov. 4 general election.

In an email to Larry Hawkins, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner and state lawmaker, MacDougall said he couldn't endorse his former opponent because Curbelo refuses to disclose the clients of his government and public relations firm.

"It's not sour grapes, I can tell you that," Hawkins said of MacDougall, whom he has known for more than three decades.

Curbelo acknowledged Friday that among his former clients are Ecuadorean bankers Roberto and William Isaías.

"The people have no stomach for another scandal in this district," MacDougall wrote. "Carlos Curbelo refuses to release his lobbyist clients while serving on the Miami Dade School board. If he had done so and it proved honorable, I would support him. But he refuses, so this is the reason I ask all good republicans not vote for Carlos Curbelo.

Continue reading "Insults fly between Miami GOP congressional candidate and former Republican foe" »

Additional debate scheduled in Miami congressional race between Joe Garcia, Carlos Curbelo


Miami Rep. Joe Garcia has agreed to debate opponent Carlos Curbelo one more time, in a Spanish-language debate to be televised Tuesday night.

The debate, at 7 p.m. on WDFL-18, known as MiraTV, will be hosted by Roberto Rodríguez Tejera, who says the format will not be as structured as formal debates in which candidates' answers are timed.

Garcia had initially agreed to five debates, three in the Florida Keys and two in Miami-Dade County. Congressional District 26 covers the southern tip of the state, from Westchester to Key West. Curbelo had called out the Democrat for not accepting more invitations; Garcia had countered that his Republican challenger gives too many "canned" responses to make the events meaningful.

The congressman later said yes to an event hosted by the Key Largo Federation of Homeowners Associations and the Tavernier Community Association Candidate. That forum took place last Wednesday.

Garcia and Curbelo, a Miami-Dade school board member, are also scheduled to appear in televised debates Oct. 19 (in English) and Oct. 21 (in Spanish).

October 10, 2014

The client list: Carlos Curbelo represented Miami brothers wanted in Ecuador


Miami congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo until recently represented two wealthy brothers convicted in Ecuador of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, the Republican acknowledged Friday.

The family of Roberto and William Isaías, who live in Miami, hired Curbelo and his firm to try to turn public opinion against the Ecuadorean government, according to Curbelo.

“Our main goal was to disseminate information about the government of Ecuador’s human-rights violations, lack of due process and ties to other rogue regimes,” he said. He added that he and his firm, Capitol Gains, represented the family for three years, “until a few months ago.”

Curbelo confirmed the relationship to the Miami Herald after being asked about it in an interview taped earlier Friday with Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4. The interview will air at 8 a.m. Sunday on Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede.

The Herald had learned about the relationship from Curbelo’s opponent, Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, who recalled running into Roberto Isaías at a Capitol Hill office building last year while Isaías made the rounds with Curbelo to offices of members of Congress.

More here.

Democratic poll: Joe Garcia leads Carlos Curbelo


A public-opinion poll of the hotly contested race for Florida's 26th congressional district shows incumbent Rep. Joe Garcia ahead of Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo, national Democrats said Friday.

Garcia leads Curbelo 45-40 percent, with 15 percent of respondents undecided, according to the poll by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The poll surveyed 400 likely voters, as identified by their voting record, in English and Spanish. Its error margin is 4.8 percent.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 28-Oct. 1. Democrats didn't release it until Friday -- nine days later -- after Republicans touted a second poll showing Curbelo in the lead.

The first GOP survey was commissioned by Curbelo and the second by Saint Leo University Polling Institute, which relied on automated telephone calls that tend to skew results toward older, more conservative voters with land lines. Saint Leo, which polled from Oct. 1-6, found Curbelo ahead 46-42 percent, with an error margin of 5 percent.

"Garcia's scandals are clearly hurting the freshman congressman," Katie Prill, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in an email. 

Privately, political observers from both side have said the race is tight, with the candidates separated by only 1 or 2 percentage points -- essentially a tie. The district encompasses Westchester to Key West.

A memo by the DCCC summarizing its poll results says Garcia is winning independent voters with 51 percent of support, and that if undecided voters are split based on their party registration, Garcia's lead increases to 53-47 percent. Among poll respondents, 42 percent were Republican, 34 percent Democrat and 24 percent without political-party affiliation.

"The results of the survey come on the heels of increased communication highlighting Curbelo's comments in Washington calling Medicare and Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme,' indicating that Curbelo has done significant damage to himself and that this is a powerful line of attack in South Florida," the DCCC said.

The party declined to release further poll details, including support for each candidate by respondents' ethnicity.

October 09, 2014

All Medicare, Social Security (with Obamacare cameo!) in latest ads by Joe Garcia, Carlos Curbelo


Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia keeps hammering Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo -- this time in a Spanish-language radio advertisement -- over Curbelo's secretly recorded remark that Medicare and Social Security amount to a "Ponzi scheme."

Curbelo, for his part, has unveiled a new line of attack by tweaking one of his television ads to bash Garcia over a vote indirectly related to Social Security, and over his endorsement of the Affordable Care Act.

Garcia's new 60-second spot (listen to an earlier one here), titled "Two-faced" in English, spares no punches. "Corporate lobbyist Carlos Curbelo is lying," it begins. "In Florida, he says one thing about Social Security and Medicare. But at a Republican meeting in Washington D.C., he said what he really thinks." 

Curbelo told college Republicans at George Washington University that the entitlement programs are "insolvent" and akin to a "Ponzi scheme." PolitiFact Florida ruled the latter comment False. He also said he would support other changes to the entitlement programs, including means-testing. 

Continue reading "All Medicare, Social Security (with Obamacare cameo!) in latest ads by Joe Garcia, Carlos Curbelo" »

National Journal: Miami congressional race among most likely to change party hands


National Journal has released a list of the 30 U.S. House seats most likely to switch parties in the Nov. 4 election. The Washington D.C.-based publication ranked Florida's 26th congressional district, which extends from Westchester to Key West, as number 16:

16. FL-26: Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia running for reelection. Garcia also faces a prized Republican recruit in Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo. The National Republican Congressional Committee has run repeated ads on Garcia's ethics issues—his former campaign manager pleaded guilty to absentee-ballot fraud. But Curbelo has suffered from some bad press, too: He was recently captured on camera calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" while talking to a group of College Republicans. An early September internal poll for Curbelo showed him with a 4-point lead. The next couple weeks will show us whether Curbelo's poll was on the money or optimistic—and whether his comments have affected the race.

Another contested Florida race, for the 2nd congressional district in the Panhandle, ranked 10.

October 08, 2014

Joe Garcia, Carlos Curbelo disagree on expanding Cuba travel, future of Cuban Adjustment Act


Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia and Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo disagree on whether more Americans should be allowed to travel to Cuba and send more money to relatives on the island.

But that significant policy difference didn’t get much attention until this week, when a pro-Cuba-travel television advertisement began airing in Miami.

The TV spot, launched Monday by the Miami-based liberal-leaning Cuba Now nonprofit, sticks out because of what it isn’t: a slick, highly produced piece bashing Curbelo or Garcia, like most of the others funded by well-heeled outside political groups in the close contest for Florida’s 26th congressional district.

Instead, the ad has a throwback, low-budget feel. Unidentified people speak directly into the camera in Spanish and urge voters to back candidates who support more Cuba travel. Their words are subtitled in English.

It’s a straight so-called “issue” ad. Most ads funded by outside groups technically fall under that category as well, but usually they make clear which candidate they’re supposed to benefit. This one makes no mention of Garcia or Curbelo.

Yet after the two candidates debated in Marathon on Monday evening and were asked about U.S.-Cuba policy, Cuba Now released a statement criticizing Curbelo, who said at the forum that he could not “support any unilateral concessions to an enemy of the United States — in this case, the Cuban government.” The congressional district stretches from Westchester to Key West.

More here.


Super PAC against super PACs bashes 'lobbyist' Carlos Curbelo in mailers


IMG_3339Every Voice Action, a liberal political group that promotes campaign-finance reform and backed Miami Rep. Joe Garcia in 2012, has come to the congressman's aid in his reelection campaign.

The super PAC -- which supports the very reforms that would do away with super PACs -- says it has mailed three different fliers attacking Republican Carlos Curbelo to some 21,000 voters in the Westchester-to-Key West 26th congressional district. The ads cost the group about $17,000, spokesman Adam Smith said. IMG_3338

Two pieces say Curbelo is "bought and paid for" by charter-school interests who have donated to his campaign that he has supported as a member of the Miami-Dade County school board. The third hammers Curbelo on his remark, caught on video and rated False by PolitiFact Florida, that Social Security and Medicare amount to a "Ponzi scheme." 

As has become routine in the tight, tit-for-tat race, Curbelo spokesman Wadi Gaitan called the fliers a diversion from Curbelo's attacks in which he highlights state and federal investigations into Garcia's past campaigns.


"Carlos Curbelo is the only candidate that can truly run on ethics, honesty, and effecitve leadership, and he is firmly committed to protecting Medicare and Social Security for current beneficiaries and guaranteeing it for future generations," Gaitan said in a statement. "Furthermore, as a School Board Member, Carlos has a record of working on bipartisan solutions to put the interests of students, teachers, and taxpayers first."

'Time for Joe to go,' say conservative group's new TV ads against Miami Rep. Joe Garcia


Yet another conservative group has launched television advertisements against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat.

The American Action Network's $1.1. million ad campaign features TV spots in English (to air in broadcast and cable networks) and Spanish (broadcast only) as well as a shorter, online-only spot in English. In March, the same group ran web ads targeting Garcia over Medicare Advantage cuts, though the congressman opposed them.

The new ads, titled "In His Own Words," use footage of Garcia speaking two years ago about then-rival David Rivera, who was plagued by scandals and lost his congressional seat to the Democrat. "We've seen what happens when a politician breaks the public trust, when they are dishonest and corrupt," Garcia says, looking into the camera.

Then come the headlines of scandals that engulfed Garcia's own office. His former chief of staff pleaded guilty to attempted absentee-ballot manipulation. His 2010 campaign is under federal investigation over a suspected straw candidate. "Time for Joe to go," the ads conclude.

"Joe Garcia is the dictionary definition of a hypocrite, promising strong ethics and instead delivering more scandal," Emily Davis an American Action Network spokeswoman, said in a statement. "For all Joe Garcia's talk about keeping the public trust, he's up to his eyeballs trying to defend himself while criminal investigations have already landed his right-hand man in jail."

For their part, Garcia and national Democrats have used Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo's words against him as well, in ads highlighting his comment that Medicare and Social Security amount to a "Ponzi scheme."

Miguel Salazar, a Garcia spokesman, called the ads "lies and false attacks."

"These outside interest groups, with no ties to South Florida, account for more than $4 million in ads that benefit lobbyist Carlos Curbelo," Salazar said in a statement. "This is just the latest sign that Curbelo can't be trusted to put South Floridians over his own political ambitions and the special interests that pay for his campaign."

View the English-language ad below.


 This post has been updated with comment from Garcia's campaign.