Joe García

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For the American pulmonary scientist and physician, see Joe G. N. Garcia.
José "Joe" García
Joe Garcia Off Port 113Cong.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 26th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by district created
Personal details
Born José Antonio García, Jr.
(1963-10-12) October 12, 1963 (age 51)
Miami Beach, Florida
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Aileen Ugalde (1992-2012)
Children Gabriela (b. 1998)
Residence Miami, Florida
Alma mater Belen Jesuit Preparatory School
University of Miami (B.A.)
University of Miami Law School (J.D.)
Website Representative Joe García

José Antonio "Joe" García, Jr. (born October 12, 1963) is the U.S Representative for Florida's 26th congressional district. The district includes most of western Miami-Dade County, as well as the Florida Keys. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He is the former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and was nominated by President Barack Obama to be director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact and Diversity of the United States Department of Energy, a position for which he was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate.[1]

Early life, education, and family[edit]

José Antonio García, Jr. was born in Miami Beach to José García Sr. and his wife, Carmen. His parents fled Cuba after the Cuban Revolution occurred and Fidel Castro's Communist regime took power. García graduated in 1982 from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. While at Belen Jesuit he participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program. García attended Miami-Dade Community College before earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and public affairs from the University of Miami in 1987. While at the university, García was elected president of the student government. García later earned his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in 1991.

Early public sector career[edit]

García served on the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) as chairman.[2][dead link] While on the FPSC, he also chaired the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and was second vice chair of the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (SEARUC). García was later appointed to the Federal Communications Commission Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and was a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).[3]

García served on the board of the Spanish American League Against Discrimination (SALAD) and on the board of directors of Regis House, a drug addiction treatment and prevention center for inner-city youth in Miami. García is a member of the board of directors of the Cuban American National Foundation, and is a past president. He also has served as director of the New Democrat Network Hispanic Strategy Center, and chairman of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County.[3][dead link]

In 2009, García joined the Obama administration in a Senate-confirmed position as director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact for the Department of Energy.[2][dead link] During his tenure at the Energy Department, García was also appointed by President Barack Obama to the Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status.[3][dead link]

United States House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2008[edit]

García announced on February 7, 2008, his candidacy for the U.S. Congress in Florida's 25th congressional district. García's campaign raised over $1.8 million. Incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart defeated García 53%-47%.[4][better source needed]

2010[edit]

In April 2010, García announced his candidacy for the 25th district again, after U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart announced he would run for reelection in the 21st District being vacated by his brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart. In his campaign announcement, García noted he would focus on job creation, funding education and health care as his top priorities.[2] García defeated Luis Meurice in the Democratic primary 76%-24%.[5][better source needed]

In the general election, García faced State Representative David Rivera, Tea Party activist Roly Arrojo, and Florida Whig Party nominee Craig Porter. Rivera defeated García 52%-43%, or a 9.5-point margin.[6][better source needed][7]

2012[edit]

In 2012, García announced he would seek a rematch against Rivera in what was now the 26th district. It is more divided between Republicans and Democrats than its predecessor, the 25th district. It had been pushed well to the east and south, losing its share of Collier County and picking up all of Monroe County, including the Keys. The race was widely expected to be much closer than in previous cycles, in part due to the new demographics, and due to numerous scandals surrounding Rivera. In addition to several state probes, Rivera was the target of a federal investigation into allegations he tried to sabotage the Democratic primary in the 26th by secretly funding an unknown candidate, Justin Sternad, in hopes of avoiding a rematch against García. Several vendors Sternad employed in his campaign told The Miami Herald that Rivera had funded Sternad's campaign.[8] Sternad himself subsequently told the FBI that Rivera had funded his campaign. Sternad's campaign manager, Ana Alliegro, was a close friend of Rivera's, and according to Sternad served as the go-between.[9]

García won the rematch, defeating Rivera 54%–43%.[10] He is the first Cuban-American Democrat to represent South Florida in Congress, as well as the first non-black Democrat to represent a significant portion of Miami since 1993.

In May 2013, García’s chief-of-staff and top political strategist resigned after being implicated in a sophisticated scheme to manipulate the previous year’s primary elections by submitting hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.[11]

2014[edit]

García is running for re-election to the U.S. House in 2014. He will face Republican nominee Carlos Curbelo in the general election. According to a Washington Post article in December 2012, García is one of the 10 most vulnerable incumbents in 2014.[12] García is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline Program. The program is designed to help protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents heading into the 2014 election.[13]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Rep. García was sworn into his first two-year term on January 3, 2013.

Despite the urging of several political and media organizations as well as prominent leaders, García refused to disclose any of his stances for the 2012 Political Courage Test.[14][dead link]

Abortion[edit]

García supports abortion rights and has voted against legislation that would prohibit organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funds.[15][better source needed]

Cuba[edit]

García joined other Cuban lawmakers in submitting a letter to the State Department calling for Cuba to remain a designated state-sponsor of terrorism. And in a Sept. 19 letter, he joined with the other three Cuban-American House members by raising concerns over the regime’s involvement in selling art at a Houston art fair.[16]

García believes the United States should continue to allow Cuban-Americans to make trips to Cuba to visit family and other Americans to go there for "purposeful travel," such as educational tours and religious missions.[17]

García supported the application of a Havana-based research institute to get a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to test and market a diabetes treatment in the United States. Critics claim that the license could weaken the embargo and could eventually lead to giving the Castro regime access to American markets without political reform.[18]

Gay marriage[edit]

García supports same-sex marriage.[15][better source needed] He was one of 172 Congressman who signed a memorandum sent to the Supreme Court to repeal DOMA.[19]

Health care[edit]

García opposes repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act[14][dead link][15][better source needed][20][better source needed]

Privacy[edit]

García voted against the Amash Amendment, which would have prohibited the collection of records by the National Security Agency under the Patriot Act.[21][22]

Economy[edit]

García voted for the Farm Bill, a $1 trillion bill expanding crop insurance for farmers by $7 billion over the next decade and created new subsidies for rice and peanut growers, but which made cuts to the food stamp program by an average of $90 per month for 1.7 million people in 15 states.[23]

Social Security[edit]

He opposes any privatization of social security.[14][dead link][15][better source needed] In addition García opposes raising the retirement age.[15][better source needed]

Energy[edit]

García supports developing renewable and alternative sources of energy.[24] He opposes offshore drilling,[14][dead link][15][better source needed][24] and also opposes any offshore energy production, hoping to develop energy industries on shore.[14][dead link]

Immigration reform[edit]

García is the chief sponsor in the House of Representatives of a comprehensive immigration reform plan[25] which is similar to legislation that has passed the United States Senate. If enacted, the plan would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people already living and working in the United States.[citation needed]

Flood insurance[edit]

In January 2014, García proposed legislation that would halt flood insurance rate hikes for five years. His efforts stem from previous legislation that once in place would hit 268,000 Floridians with rate increases of between 20 to 400 percent.[26] The Miami Herald reports that the bill applies to all "property owners covered by the National Florida Insurance Program, and provides the greatest relief to those hardest hit—including an estimated 47,000 in Miami-Dade County."[26]

Controversy[edit]

Absentee Ballot Scheme 2012[edit]

In February of 2013, The Miami Herald began reporting about "high-tech" hackers who had managed to make fraudulent ballot requests for the August 2012 primary election. On July 07, 2012 the first of over 2,500 absentee ballot requests began streaming in from voters who had not requested a ballot.[27] The Miami Herald investigation into hundreds of fraudulent ballot requests prompted Prosecutors to reopen the case. It was discovered that the fake ballot requests originated from masked Internet Protocol addresses in Miami.[28] The investigation would conclude that Congressman Garcia’s staff had been behind the hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.[29] Of the three staff members involved, Jefferey Garcia (no relation), had served as campaign manager to the Congressman during his bid for the District 26 seat, and later as Congressman Garcia's Chief of Staff. Garcia would later be implicated in the scheme.[28] Congressman Garcia's Chief of Staff plead guilty, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail for orchestrating the fraudulent ballot scheme.[30]

Funding a Shill Candidate 2010[edit]

On September 09, 2013, the Miami Herald reported funding of a shill candidate during Congressman Joe Garcia's 2010 campaign. Garcia's campaign secretly funded candidate, Roly Arrojo, in an effort to siphon votes from his rival, David Rivera.[31] Arrojo had spent thousands of dollars on mailers and a $10,440 qualifying fee without having ever filed the necessary reports with the Federal Election Commission.[32] Federal Agents are ramping up their efforts in the investigation.[33] Vendors employed in the Arrojo campaign have told The Miami Herald that Garcia had funded Arrojo's campaign and that they were cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation.[31]

Personal life[edit]

García and his ex-wife, Aileen (divorced in 2012), have one child.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Patricia Mazzei (23 September 2010). "Democratic House candidate Joe Garcia more mellow this time around". Miami Herald. Retrieved 8 July 2011. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Campaigns -- Joe Garcia for FL-25". Democracy for America. Retrieved 8 July 2011. [dead link]
  4. ^ Ourcampaigns.com
  5. ^ Ourcampaigns.com
  6. ^ Ourcampaigns.com
  7. ^ Jaweed Kaleem (3 November 2010). "Joe Garcia concedes to David Rivera, Allen West leads in Congressional race". Miami Herald. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Caputo, Marc (August 21, 2012). "Campaign vendors say Republican Congressman David Rivera funded Democrat’s failed primary bid". Miami Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ Marc Caputo; Manny Garcia (2012-09-25). "Rivera ran secret campaign, Sternad tells FBI". The Miami Herald. 
  10. ^ "THE TOP ELECTION 2012 HEADLINES FROM NBC 6 SOUTH FLORIDA AND NBC NEWS". WTVJ. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  11. ^ MAZZEI, PATRICIA (31 May 2013). "Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff implicated in phantom absentee-ballot requests scheme". Miami Herald (Miami Florida). 
  12. ^ Blake, Aaron (7 December 2012). "House Democrats face long odds in 2014". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Announces 2013-2014 Frontline Members". Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Representative Joe Garcia's Issue Positions(Political Courage Test)". Vote Smart. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Joe Garcia (Democrat, district 26)". On The Issues. 
  16. ^ Cuban-American lawmakers press White House to keep Cuba on terror list | TheHill
  17. ^ Joe Garcia brings a different Cuban-American view to Congress - Sun Sentinel
  18. ^ Rep. Garcia’s push for Cuba drug trial tests support for embargo - Political Currents - MiamiHerald.com
  19. ^ "Joe García, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel sign gay marriage brief". Gay South Florida. 
  20. ^ "joe Garcia for Congress". Democracy for America. 
  21. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (24 July 2013). "House Defeats Effort to Rein In N.S.A. Data Gathering". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "House Vote 412 - Rejects Limits on N.S.A. Data Collection". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Nixon, Ron (4 February 2014). "Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Joe Garcia, D: Fla.-26". Roll Call. 
  25. ^ FL Rep. Joe Garcia working to woo GOP with immigration bill they can support
  26. ^ a b Garcia offers up proposal as Congress continues to grapple with flood insurance | Naked Politics
  27. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (February 23, 2013). "The case of the phantom ballots: an electoral whodunit". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Mazzei, Patricia (May 31, 2013). "Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff implicated in phantom absentee-ballot requests scheme". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  29. ^ Grimm, Fred (June 3, 2013). "Surprise! Both parties cheated in Joe Garcia’s district". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (October 21, 2013). "Jeffrey Garcia, ex-aide to Rep. Joe Garcia, pleads guilty, will serve 90 days in jail". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Caputo, Marc (September 9, 2013). "Former congressional staffer under second investigation". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  32. ^ Marc Caputo; Patricia Mazzei (June 12, 2013). "Mailer links mystery candidate to Rep. Joe Garcia camp". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  33. ^ Marc Caputo; Patricia Mazzei (September 3, 2014). "Feds intensify investigation on Rep. Joe Garcia’s former campaign manager". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  34. ^ Rothstein, Betsy (2 December 2013). "Congressman hangs with foxy thong-clad companion". Daily Caller. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 26th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Pete Gallego
D-Texas
United States Representatives by seniority
382nd
Succeeded by
Dennis Heck
D-Washington