A Week Later, National Press Still Virtually Ignoring ‘Well-Intentioned’ Absentee Plot by Fla. Dem Congressman’s Staff Chief
A 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 Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia had admittted to attempting to orchestrate “a sophisticated scheme to manipulate last year’s primary elections by submitting hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.”
I also noted that the story, which broke on Friday, May 31, was “getting very little notice,” but that perhaps “the amount and scope of national coverage will increase when the work week starts.” Well, the official work week has ended, and there has been almost no coverage anywhere, despite Congressman Garcia’s stunning reaction to the news reported in a separate June 1 Herald story (bolds are mine):
Congressman Joe Garcia on Saturday attempted to control the damage inflicted on his office a day earlier, when he dismissed his chief of staff for apparently orchestrating a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.
Meanwhile, Republicans nationwide and closer to home pummeled Garcia, questioning whether the first-term congressman was coming clean on his campaign’s involvement in the ballot scandal.
In a news conference held at his West Miami-Dade office Saturday morning, Garcia, a Democrat, maintained that he had no knowledge of the failed plot during last year’s primary election. He said he learned about his campaign’s involvement only the previous afternoon from chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia, who is unrelated to the congressman and has long served as his top political strategist.
“I cannot stress how angry I am at these events,” Joe Garcia said Saturday.
He called the plot “ill-conceived” but added: “I think it was a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout.”
The perpetrating chief of staff has essentially admitted to committing serious crimes, as the first Herald story noted:
Only voters, their immediate family members or their legal guardians can submit requests for absentee ballots under state election laws. Violations may be considered third-degree felony fraud. Using someone’s personal information — as required in online ballot-request forms — may also be considered a more serious, first-degree felony.
Who knew that committing felonies could be so “well-intentioned”? Was the plot “ill-conceived” only because it got caught?
Oddly, a search at the AP’s separate “Big Story” site on Garcia’s full name (not in quotes, as the site doesn’t process them), while also returning nothing relevant, has two photos of the congressman in a group shot with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and agency bureaucrats complaining about the impact of hurricane-season furloughs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They were engaging in these histionics despite the fact that the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama rejected several House alternatives to federal worker furloughs during sequestration negotiations earlier this year.
A story carried at NBC Miami with a joint AP-NBC copyright indicates that wire service, as several commenters at NewsBusters predicted last week, decided to treat the story as local in nature with no national importance.
A Google News search on [absentee "Joe Garcia"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) returned only 40 items. Roughly three-quarters were from Florida-based news outlets. Several others were from blogs and other online new media sources on the left and right, including yours truly’s June 2 NewsBusters post. Only single stories at CBS News, Fox News, a CNN blog, and the Hill, along with two from Roll Call (here and here) came from national establishment press outlets.
It should be quite obvious that if a Repubican or conservative made a statement such as Garcia’s about a blatant attempt at ultimately committing voter fraud by his or her chief of staff, it would be the subject of national press scrutiny and late-night comedy ridicule for days.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.