Fla. lawmaker’s chief of staff resigns amid absentee ballot probe

Joe_Garcia-1From TheHill.com, By Russell Berman – 06/01/13 – The chief of staff to freshman Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) resigned on Friday  after he was implicated in a plot to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee  ballots during the congressman’s primary election last year.

Jeffrey Garcia, who’s not related to the  congressman, left at Rep. Garcia’s request after he took responsibility for the  scheme, The Miami Herald reported.  The resignation came hours after law enforcement officials raided the homes of  former Garcia campaign employees as part of an investigation into the matter.

“I’m shocked and disappointed about this,” Rep. Garcia, who said he was  unaware of the scheme, told the Herald. “This is something that hit me  from left field. Until today, I had no earthly idea this was going on.”

Jeffrey Garcia declined to comment to the paper, which reported that he also  worked for the campaign of Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), who defeated Rep. Allen  West (R-Fla.) in 2012.

Rep. Garcia said he was likely to put  his communications director, Giancarlo  Sopo, on administrative leave after Sopo was served with a search warrant  Friday.

The probe began after a Herald investigation found that 2,552  fraudulent requests for ballots from the Aug. 14 primaries came from Internet  Protocol addresses in Miami, and most of the requests came from foreign IP addresses.

The paper found that the requests targeted Democratic voters in Garcia’s  congressional district, as well as Republicans in two nearby state legislature  races.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/302915-freshman-representatives-chief-of-staff-resigns-amid-investigation#ixzz2V3t4k5Bf Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

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