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Congressman Garcia Promises "Zero Tolerance" In Absentee Ballot Scandal

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - In a Saturday morning press conference, Congressman Joe Garcia said he demanded his chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia resign after learning he was the subject of an absentee ballot investigation.

"I cannot stress how angry I am," said Garcia.

Joe Garcia, who is no relation to his former chief of staff, says he learned of the investigation Friday afternoon.

"Yesterday I spoke with the State Attorney and staff investigators by phone. I offered my maximum cooperation in these events. We're going to cooperate fully and I've asked all my staff to do the same," he said.

The congressman denied any knowledge of the alleged scheme and said he does not believe it impacted the election.

"From my conversation thus far, no ballots were tampered with. No ballots were touched. I believe that while this was an ill-conceived effort it was meant to expand voter access," said the congressman.

Although he expressed anger, Garcia seemed to blame the system calling Miami-Dade's election system "particularly adept at being manipulated."

"I explain it with a reckless abandon that we play politics in South Florida and it shouldn't be that way."

Law enforcement searched the homes of Garcia's 2012 campaign manager as well as his communications director.

Saturday afternoon, no one at the home of John Estes or Giancarlo Sopo would comment on the investigation.

Garcia said he will likely place Sopo, his communications director, on administrative leave as this investigation continues. He said he has also hired a lawyer to perform an internal investigation.


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