Democratic Florida Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff resigned Friday after he was implicated in a plot to skew last year’s primary elections by submitting hundreds of fradulent absentee-ballot requests, the Miami Herald reported late Friday afternoon.
Garcia said he had asked for Jeffrey Garcia’s–no relation to the congressman–resignation after he had learned of his involvement.
“I’m shocked and disappointed about this,” Congressman Garcia, who said he had just learned of the scheme, told The Miami Herald. “This is something that hit me from left field. Until today, I had no earthly idea this was going on.”
Jeffrey Garcia also worked on the campaign of Democrat Patrick Murphy, the challenger who took down Rep. Allen West (R-FL). Murphy has not been implicated in the scheme.
On Friday, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office served search warrants at the homes of Rep. Garcia’s communication director and 2012 campaign manager. This reopened probe into the phantom absentee ballot requests stems from a Miami Herald investigation that discovered absentee ballots were suspiciously being requested in large volumes from concentrated areas.
The Herald found that the ballot requests were clustered and targeted Democratic voters in Garcia’s congressional district and Republican voters in two Florida House of Representatives districts, indicating a concerted effort by a mystery computer hacker or hackers.
Garcia is the first Cuban-American Democratic representative. He easily beat beleaguered incumbent Rep. David Rivera for the seat in 2012. At the time, Rivera was being investigating for his involvement in the illegal funding of the campaign of one of Garcia’s Democratic primary opponents.