BRADENTON – Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff resigned Friday after being implicated in a plot to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests in last year's primary election. Jeffrey Garcia (no relation) stepped down after taking responsibility for the plan after law enforcement investigators raided the homes of other campaign operatives as part of an ongoing investigation.
Mr. Garcia also worked on Patrick Murphy's 2012 campaign, in which the Jupiter Democrat upset tea-party Republican Congressman Allen West. There is no indication that Murphy's campaign was involved with any such scheme.
The raids were the result of a probe that was reopened in February, after a Miami Herald investigation found that a concentration of fraudulent requests for the August 2012 primaries originated from IP addresses in Miami. Congressman Garcia told the Herald he was "shocked and disappointed."
Congressman Garcia, a Miami-based lawyer whose 26th district covers most of western Miami-Dade County as well as the Florida Keys, was defeated in Congressional bids in 2008 and 2010. The 2012 primary was initially marred by a federal investigation into Garcia's general election opponent, Republican incumbent David Rivera, who Garcia's primary opponent, Justin Sternad, had said orchestrated and helped fund his campaign in an effort to avoid facing Garcia in the general.
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