Tags: garcia | aide | ballot | scheme

Fla. Rep. Garcia's Top Aide Forced Out Over Ballot Scheme

Monday, 03 Jun 2013 04:02 PM

By Dan Weil

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Rep. Joe Garcia's chief of staff was forced to resign last week after he was implicated in a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballots in Florida's primary elections last year.

Garcia's communications director, Giancarlo Sopo, was also facing possible administrative leave after he was served with a search warrant Friday in connection with the investigation, The Miami Herald reports.

Garcia, a Florida Democrat, told the Herald that he asked Jeffrey Garcia, his chief of staff who is no relation to the congressman, to resign after he took responsibility for the operation to manipulate the vote outcome.

"I'm shocked and disappointed about this," Congressman Garcia said, adding that he was unaware of the fraud.

"This is something that hit me from left field. Until today, I had no earthly idea this was going on."

An investigation by Florida authorities began after the Herald discovered that 2,552 fraudulent requests for ballots in the Aug. 14 primary came from Internet Protocol addresses in Miami. Most of those requests were masked by foreign IP addresses, but none of them were actually honored by elections officials who thought they looked suspicious.

Congressman Garcia, serving only his first term, represents Florida's 26th congressional district, which includes most of western Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. The ballot requests apparently were targeted at that district.

According to the Herald, Jeffrey Garcia also worked for the campaign of Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democrat who defeated Republican Rep. Allen West last year. That election was decided by less than 3,000 votes, and West had sought a recount.


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