June 2, 2013

Not Yet News: Fla. Dem Congressman’s Chief of Staff Resigns After Admitting to Absentee Ballot Plot (BizzyBlog Update: Congressman Blames ‘Flawed’ Absentee Process, Says It Was ‘A Well-intentioned Attempt’

VoteFraudGraphicThis has to be an imaginary story, right? Most Democrats and others on the left continue to insist that voter fraud is not a problem, even in the face of examples like Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken, whose 312-vote “victory” margin in 2008 may have entirely consisted (and then some) of illegal votes by felons in just one county.

More recently, it seems that the claim is under revision. A Democratic Party county chair, in a Cincinnati Enquirer story about three out-of-staters who voted or attempted to vote in Ohio,  is reported to have “long said there is no evidence of systemic fraud.” Well, though they were were prevented from casting illegal ballots, a Florida Democratic congressman’s chief of staff and his alleged cohorts definitely attempted large-scale “systemic” fraud last year. The Miami Herald, which played an important investigative role, had the story on Friday. A Google News search on relevant terms indicates that it’s getting very little notice (15 items in total, most in Florida). Excerpts from Patricia Mazzei’s Herald story follow the jump (bolds are mine):

Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff implicated in phantom absentee-ballot requests scheme

Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff abruptly resigned Friday after being implicated in a sophisticated scheme to manipulate last year’s primary elections by submitting hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.

Friday afternoon, Garcia said he had asked Jeffrey Garcia, no relation, for his resignation after the chief of staff — also the congressman’s top political strategist — took responsibility for the plot. Hours earlier, law enforcement investigators raided the homes of another of Joe Garcia’s employees and a former campaign aide in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into the matter.

… Jeffrey Garcia, 40, declined to comment. He also worked last year on the campaign of Democrat Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who unseated tea-party Republican congressman Allen West. Murphy has not been implicated in the phantom-requests operation. (Allen West, who “lost” by a very thin margin, call your office — Ed.)

The raids marked a sign of significant progress in the probe that prosecutors reopened in February, after a Herald investigation found that hundreds of 2,552 fraudulent requests for the Aug. 14 primaries originated from Internet Protocol addresses in Miami. The bulk of the requests were masked by foreign IP addresses.

It is unclear if the requests from domestic and foreign IP addresses are related to the same operatives.

The Miami 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.

None of the identified requests were filled because the elections department’s software flagged them as suspicious. But had they slid by, campaigns would have been able to direct phone calls, fliers and home visits to the voters to try to win their support — if not attempt to steal the ballots from unsuspecting voters’ mailboxes.

The Miami Herald found that 466 of 472 phantom requests in Congressional District 26 targeted Democrats. In House District 103, 864 of 871 requests targeted Republicans, as did 1,184 of 1,191 requests in House District 112.

During the primary, the campaign of Romero Roses, one of Garcia’s rivals, raised concerns about odd absentee-ballot requests in the race.

Read the whole thing. Read the whole thing. One cannot help but wonder how many far less brazen attempts at fraud in Miami-Dade and elsewhere have sailed through successfully.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET, searches at the Associated Press on “absentee” and “Garcia” returned no relevant results. Maybe the amount and scope of national coverage will increase when the work week starts, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

What are the vote-fraud deniers going to say now? Let me guess: “The system worked.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update: The congressman has lost the presumptive benefit of the doubt based on statements he made that were covered in Saturday’s Herald

He called the plot “ill-conceived” but added: “I think it was a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout.”

… The congressman laid some blame on what he called a “flawed” absentee-voting process. When asked how he could explain his campaign’s involvement, Garcia blamed the region’s rough-and-tumble politics, which had already marred the Congressional District 26 race.

“I explain it with the reckless abandon that we play politics in South Florida,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that way.”

What can be “well-intentioned” about generating illegal absentee ballot requests?

I detect an undercurrent of “Too bad they got caught.” Additionally, what transpired is an indication of a serious management problem — and Joe Garcia is the manager.

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3 Comments

  1. [...] week ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I wrote up a post on the Miami Herald’s coverage of how the chief of staff of Florida [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — June 9, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  2. [...] week ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I wrote up a post on the Miami Herald's coverage of how the chief of staff of Florida [...]

    Pingback by A Week Later, National Press Still Virtually Ignoring 'Well-Intentioned' Absentee Plot by Fla. Dem Congressman's Staff Chief | PolitiTalk — June 9, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

  3. [...] week ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I wrote up a post on the Miami Herald's coverage of how the chief of staff of Florida [...]

    Pingback by A Week Later, National Press Still Virtually Ignoring 'Well-Intentioned' Absentee Plot by Fla. Dem Congressman's Staff Chief | Tea Party Town | Conservative New | Tea Party — June 9, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

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