Congressman denies involvement in staffer's alleged vote fraud attempt
Rep. Garcia on the campaign trail last year.
June 1st, 2013
06:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Congressman denies involvement in staffer's alleged vote fraud attempt

Updated Saturday 6/1 6:53 p.m. ET

(CNN) - U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia said Saturday he was saddened and disappointed by absentee ballot fraud allegations leveled against his former chief of staff.

The congressman said at a press conference he asked for the staffer's resignation and called for fixes to the "flawed voter absentee process" which left the system vulnerable.

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Garcia said he demanded the resignation of chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia (no relation, according to local media reports), then fired him shortly after learning of the allegations Friday afternoon.

No fraudulent ballots were cast as a result of this alleged plot, the congressman said.

"I've asked an attorney to investigate what went on and interview the people. I have asked all of my staff to fully cooperate with any investigation," he said. "Here's the good part about this - from my conversations thus far, no ballots were tampered with, no ballots were touched.

"I believe that while this was an ill-conceived effort," he continued, "it was meant to expand voter access."

Jeffrey Garcia told CNN on Saturday he had no comment on the matter.

The Miami Herald, which first reported the story, said investigators were looking into absentee ballot requests flagged by elections software as fraudulent. An investigation conducted by the paper found more than 2,500 fraudulent ballot requests during the congressional primary last year, although it was not clear how many were allegedly tied to Garcia.

"We were angry and tremendously bothered by this," the congressman said at the press conference. "I can't tell you the disappointment we feel about how this happens … there can be zero tolerance for anything like this."

The Herald reported law enforcement recently searched at least three homes, including two of Garcia's former staffers.

One was the congressman's communications director, Giancarlo Sopo, the paper reported. CNN's attempts to contact him on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Garcia said Sopo denied involvement and added "I take him at his word." But Garcia said he would likely temporarily reassign Sopo or put him on administrative leave.

Neither the state attorney's office for Miami-Dade County nor the state elections office returned calls on Saturday from CNN.

Garcia emphasized that the system for requesting absentee ballots "is prone to fraud," especially in that county, but he did not explain if he thought that diluted the severity of the charges against his former chief of staff.

- CNN's Jennifer Moore contributed to this report

Filed under: Florida
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Jimmy C

    So, since it's not reflected in the story, I assume that all involved are democrats?

    June 1, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. iMac

    Since the Congrssman was not described as a "Republican", I must assume that he is a Demorat.

    June 1, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. Ron

    Not that it matters Greg, but unlike other media stories on Garcia you wrote around the fact that Garcia is a Dem. On purpose?

    June 1, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. jk

    Shocker. No where in the story, not once, does it mention that Garcia is a Democrat. Any story about voter fraud and a Republican even in the same room is excoriated. A Dem staffer does it and it's shuffled under the carpet.

    June 1, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. john

    just another dem crook. notice how cnn gave no party name in the story? if it was a repug. that would have been the head line of the story.

    June 1, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  6. HenryMiller

    Yet another corrupt Democrat.

    June 1, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Nameb

    Liberal mafia at work.

    June 1, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. Paul

    Lets just make everyone show ID to vote. Stop the absentee voting. Just like everything else in life, if its important you will make the time. So make the time and show up to vote. Problem solved and then we can stop talking about voter fraud and move on to more important items

    June 1, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  9. glennrobert

    How did Jennifer get through this entire report without saying the Representatives party? Not obvious in California.

    June 2, 2013 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  10. david

    And nowhere in the story do they mention he's a Democrat – as are all his staff members!


    June 2, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  11. The Manager

    Must be a Democrat because the reporter doesn't indicate which party the Congressman belongs to. Whenever it's a Republican they always indicate that in the first sentence.

    June 2, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. babaluval

    Funny, there's no mention in this piece that Joe Garcia is a Democrat.

    June 2, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  13. king

    the repubs drive to destroy the votersin this country is pitiful, yet that not a scandal. when will this press get serious about its job and stop reporting real stuff that will help our country and stop this fake scandal crap that the repubs are pushing, and start reporting about their real scandals: such as depressing the vote and not rebuilding our infrastructure, while china and Europe modernize for the next generation. this will allow other countries to steel our investors, because no one want to be in a country that is not moving forward. it is so frustration to watch all these other countries pass us by, while we sit down on our rump and squabble about unimportant fake crap. the repubs with their big government bull crap. this country's government is the smallest in modern history, just like the right wing shout that bull crap about we having highest taxes, when in fact we are paying the lowest taxes in 70 years. when will these people ever make a fact past their lips.

    June 2, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  14. Harleigh Kiffer

    Foolish to think that he would admit to a felony even in his district. Remember Florida is rated 1st in the nation for corruption.

    June 2, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Interesting that the article does not declare with which political party the U.S. Congressman is affiliated.

    June 2, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Whether the candidate was involved or not.........we KNOW the political party, was absolutely involved, as there was a PATTERN of voter fraud by that political party, across America!

    June 2, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. An Independent Voter

    Democrat Congressman; His Chief of Staff forced to resign because of voter fraud, and very Obamalike, he knows nothing and takes no responsibility. I'm supposed to take the congressman's word that no fraudulent ballots were cast? That explanation will work on the mindless partisan, but not on the rest of the people. I'm sure the Chief of Staff will be well taken care of for taking the fall. A typical Democrat scenario.

    June 2, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. comen

    What Congressman Joe Garcia, as a democrat, means by "fix" is hide the fraud better or go after those that exposed the fraud, naturally. Hence, democrat blocking of actions continues to prevent voter fraud through positive identification and ensuring accurate records of legal voters. One legal voter, one vote, unless you are democrat, these days (repubs have done the same, but the current corrupt party in power and abusing it is democrat).

    June 2, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. don in albuquerque

    They did not say he was a Dem!!! By Gawd!!!!!!! Time for a Civil War!!!!!!!! Typhical hillbilly thinking.

    June 2, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |