October 22, 2013

Just a Local Story to the Bitter End: AP Fails to Give Congressional Aide’s Voter-Fraud Conviction National Coverage

Fox News has coverage today of the guilty plea of Jeffrey Garcia, a former congressional chief of staff who “pled guilty Monday to one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges after admitting he illegally requested hundreds of absentee ballots while he was running the campaign for Rep. Joe Garcia, who he is not related to.”

The Fox story indicates that the Associated Press contributed to its report. That’s odd, because a search on “Garcia absentee” (not in quotes) at the AP’s national site done at 11:30 a.m. ET came up empty. That’s because AP has from all appearances treated treated Garcia’s plea and sentencing as a Florida story unworthy of national notice, despite the fact that the gaming the electoral system and allegations of voter suppression have been a national discussion topic for years. The one unbylined AP story I did find was also ridiculously sympathetic to Jeffrey:

Former Joe Garcia staffer admits wrongdoing

VoteFraudGraphicA South Florida congressman’s former chief of staff received hugs and kisses from crying family members as he begins his first of 90 days behind bars.

Jeffrey Garcia surrendered himself in court, Monday, after pleading guilty to illegally requesting hundreds of absentee ballots on behalf of voters during the 2012 election. “It’s not about pure intent, it’s whether there was attempt to steal somebody’s vote, and they definitely did not do that, and there was no such intent,” said Garcia’s attorney, Henry Bell.

In all, Garcia pled guilty to one felony charge and three misdemeanors. Garcia could have faced up to eight years in prison. “He only said that he never intended and never did,” said Bell. “I think the facts show he actually didn’t manipulate anybody’s vote, interfere with anybody’s ballot. All they did was request the ballots. The way they did it was in violation of the applicable statutes, and that’s it.”

The freshman congressman was in office since January and released a statement: “It is painful to watch a friend go through this very difficult ordeal. As we all move past this investigation, it must be noted that while these actions were wrong. No ballots were touched or manipulated in anyway, and no voter had their votes interfered with or impeded in any way.”

Once he’s released from jail, the former chief of staff will have to serve 18 months probation, including 90 days on house arrest. “This is just the final step in the process with the state in doing what Jeff set out to do when this became public, which was accept responsibility for what he did, put this behind him and move on,” said Bell.

In seven paragraphs the unidentified AP writer managed to mention “no intent” or “no manipullation” in three passages, without providing any information concerning what the judge or prosecutor had to say. Why would anyone attempt to get absentee ballots in others’ names if they didn’t intend to vote on their behalf or to influence the recipients to vote “correctly”?

At two previous NewsBusters posts in early June (here and here), I noted that Garcia’s admission of involvement and Congressman Garcia’s reaction, respectively, failed to garner meaningful national establishment press attention. The Congressman’s outrageous reaction:

I think it was a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout.”

This is how the myth that voter fraud and attempts to perpetrate voter fraud aren’t big problems gets perpetuated. When it does happen, it’s either systematically ignored or is carefully contained.

Finally, while the Fox story noted in its first paragraph that Congressman Joe Garcia is a Democrat, the AP story, as usual failed to tag anyone involved as a Democrat. It’s almost inconceivable that the AP would have failed to identify a Republican in similar circumstances.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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