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UPDATED Big-spending conservative groups target Miami Rep. Joe Garcia with TV, online ads

@PatriciaMazzei

Two conservative political groups announced separately Tuesday that they plan to spend big bucks to oppose the reelection of U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat who represents the 26th congressional district, one of Florida's most competitive.

The American Action Network plans to spend $1 million in television and online advertising to run in October that will highlight the conviction of his former chief of staff and Garcia's support of Obamacare.

"South Florida families deserve better than another scandal-plagued politician like Joe Garcia who won't take responsibility for the criminal actions of his own chief of staff," group spokeswoman Emily Davis said in a news release. "It's time Joe Garcia answers for the crimes under his watch and his record of boosting Obamacare at the expense of South Florida families."

The ad buy is part of an $8 million effort across the country targeting nine swing districts. The same group funded an online ad in July urging Garcia to oppose cuts to Medicare Advantage proposed by the White House -- which Garcia had already done.

Also Tuesday, Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, said it would re-launch an online ad criticizing Garcia's Obamacare support. The ad has been on the web since February. 

 

"Congressman Garcia is still supporting ObamaCare, even though he's seent he disruption, confusion and hardship it's causing Florida families," Chris Hudson, the group's Florida director, said in a news release. "Congressman Garcia may claim he is working on behalf of Floridians to get them relief from the law, but the truth is he's done nothing to get rid of ObamaCare, even a year after the disastrous rollout."

Last year, the same group ran a TV ad against Garcia and fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, also over Obamacare.

The outside ads, known in political parlance as independent expenditures, come the same day Garcia unveiled his first TV ads, which feature some jabs at Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo. Garcia's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It is no surprise that out of state millionaires and special interests are trying to buy elections for lobbyists like Carlos Curbelo. Curbeo has already proven his allegiance to special interests by refusing to disclose his lobbying clients and by funneling tax dollars on the school board to his political donors. Now these special interests want him in Congress to push their shared agenda of ending the Medicare guarantee and putting big money special interests first in Washington. Our campaign is about continuing to work for South Florida families -- always putting the people of South Florida over politics,” Said Miguel Salazar, spokesperson for the campaign.

"It is no surprise that out-of-state millionaires and special interests are trying to buy elections for lobbysists like Carlos Curbelo," Garcia spokesman Miguel Salazar said in a statement. "Curbelo has already proven his allegiance to special interests by refusing to disclose his lobbying clients and by funneling tax dollars on the school board to his political donors. Now these special interests want him in Congress to push their shared agenda of ending the Medicare guarantee and putting big money special interests first in Washington."

(PolitiFact Florida rated an earlier Garcia statement over Curbelo's position on the so-called Medicare guarantee "false.")

Garcia has used conservatives' spending to urge liberals to donate to his campaign. At least two other conservative groups, America Rising PAC and LIBRE Initiative, have also targeted him. The National Republican Congressional Committee said in June it planned to spend $1.4 million in ads against Garcia.

Its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had reserved about $970,000 in ad time as of June.

This post has been updated with comment from the Garcia campaign and the PolitiFact Florida mention.

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