By JAVIER MANJARRES
Unlike Chicago-style politics, Miami’s infamous ‘arroz con pollo’ style of campaigning and electioneering is in a class all by itself. Over the past several years, Miami has had its fair share of political scandals and sketchy campaigning from both Republicans and Democrats-it must be in the water or something.
The newest scandal to blow up in Miami is the alleged absentee ballot request scandal that could implicate Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia. According to the Miami Herald, Garcia’s chief of staff , Jeffrey Garcia, “abruptly resigned this past Friday after officials implicated him in a “sophisticated scheme to manipulate last year’s primary elections by submitting hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.”
It gets worse, much worse. Garcia’s communication director Giancarlo Sopo, and his 2012 campaign manager, John Estes, were both served with search warrants of their homes this past Friday. Sopo, who according to Garcia, will most likely be reassigned to another staff position. But should Sopo still be allowed to receive a salary, considering that fact that he is still being investigated for his possible involvement in the case?
The raids marked a sign of significant progress in the probe that prosecutors reopened in February, after a Herald investigation found that hundreds of the 2,552 fraudulent requests for the Aug. 14 primaries originated from Internet Protocol addresses in Miami that could be further traced. The bulk of the requests were masked by foreign IP addresses.-Miami Herald
As expected, Congressman Garcia took the “I’m shocked and disappointed” position, when asked for comment about the growing ballot scandal, adding that he could not stress how angry he is to learn of this investigation.
I’m shocked and disappointed about this,” Garcia, who said he was unaware of the plot, told The Miami Herald. “This is something that hit me from left field. Until today, I had no earthly idea this was going on.”-Rep. Joe Garcia (D)
But while Garcia contends to not have any knowledge of the alleged absentee-ballot scandal, past and present campaign staffers from both Republican and Democratic campaigns are questioning whether or not Garcia was really kept out of the loop.
During Garcia’s past failed Congressional campaigns, Garcia built up a reputation of being a “hands-on” type of candidate, that insisted on been apprised on all aspects of his campaign.
So was Garcia kept in the loop while this alleged ballot fraud was taking place?
“I cannot stress how angry I am at these events,” Joe Garcia said Saturday.
Carlos Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board Member, is said to be close to announcing that he will challenge Garcia for his eat in Congress. Curbelo has opened up a Congressional Exploratory Committee, but is expected to to officially announce by the end of July.
“The people of Southwest Dade and the Keys are sick and tired of politicians that will do or say anything to get elected. Every day it becomes more evident that we need to turn the page on this culture of corruption and get new leadership in Washington.” -Carlos Curbelo
Also, it is important to point out that Jeffrey Garcia worked for Democrat Patrick Murphy’s congressional campaign against Republican Congressman Allen West. While the Herald reports that Murphy has not been implicated in the ballot fraud case, the 2012 Murphy-West recount drama that took place raises more doubt and speculation as to whether or not voter fraud was committed in that race as well.
West and his campaign, who had suspected voter fraud all along, may have just received a little vindication with this news breaking out of Miami. Democrats insisted that West and his supporters were “crying wolf” about voter fraud in his against Patrick Murphy.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has targeted Garcia’s seat in the 2014 election cycle.
This latest report of an alleged ballot fraud scandal surrounding Congressman Joe Garcia is very troubling. 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.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill