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
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by district created
Personal details
Born José Antonio García, Jr.
(1963-10-12) October 12, 1963 (age 50)
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 but failed the bar exam.[2]

García was married to Aileen Maria Ugalde, general counsel for the University of Miami. They have one daughter, Gabriela. García and his wife divorced in 2012.

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]


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

Immigration reform

García is the chief sponsor in the House of Representatives of a comprehensive immigration reform plan[4] 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] When the bill was introduced García said it was not perfect but he believed it to be a good compromise. He has since introduced a discharge petition,[5] a mechanism for bypassing the Speaker and forcing a vote on the House Floor. García has also joined with immigration reform advocates in numerous attempts to convince GOP leadership to bring the bill to vote, including the “Fast for Families,”[6] that has been ongoing since 2013.

Flood insurance

García has introduced 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.[7] 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."[7]

Voter registration fraud scandal

On 31 May 2013, Representative 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. Jeffrey Garcia’s resignation came three months after a Miami Herald investigation found that hundreds of the 2,552 fraudulent online requests for the 14 August primary election originated from unknown hackers using IP addresses in Miami. On the same day, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, served search warrants seeking computers and electronic equipment on the homes of Representative Garcia’s communications director, Giancarlo Sopo, and John Estes, his 2012 campaign manager.[8] Jeffrey García, the aide, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in October, 2013. He was released from Miami-Dade Correctional Center on December 25, 2013 after having served 65 days of a 90 day active sentence. He must now serve three months of house arrest followed by 15 months of probation. [9]

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.[10]


García supports abortion rights and has voted against legislation that would prohibit organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funds.[11]


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.[12]

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.[13]

García believes the United States should continue to allow Cuban-Americans to make unlimited trips to Cuba and other Americans to go there for "purposeful travel," such as educational tours and religious missions.[14]

Gay marriage[edit]

García supports same-sex marriage.[11] He was one of 172 Congressman who signed a memorandum sent to the Supreme Court to repeal DOMA.[15]

Health care[edit]

García opposes repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act[10][11][16]


On May 27, 2014, García remarked positively about communism when he noted that El Paso, TX, known as being one of the country’s safest cities, is directly across from Juarez, Mexico, one of the most dangerous in the hemisphere, saying, “It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez, right? And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico. And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that Communism works...If you give everybody a good, government job, there’s no crime."[17]


García voted against the Amash Amendment, which would have prohibited the collection of records by the National Security Agency under the Patriot Act.[18][19]


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.[20]

Social Security[edit]

He opposes any privatization of social security.[10][11] In addition García opposes raising the retirement age.[11]


García supports developing renewable and alternative sources of energy.[21] He opposes offshore drilling,[10][11][21] and also opposes any offshore energy production, hoping to develop energy industries on shore.[10]



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%.[22]


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%.[23]

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.[24][25]


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.[26] 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.[27]

García won the rematch, defeating Rivera 54%–43%.[28] 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.


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.[29] 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.[30]

Personal life[edit]

García and his ex-wife, Aileen (divorced in 2012), have one child.[31]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d 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. ^ FL Rep. Joe Garcia working to woo GOP with immigration bill they can support
  5. ^ Garcia Introduces Discharge Petition on Immigration Reform | Congressman Joe Garcia
  6. ^ To pressure House GOP leaders, Rep. Joe Garcia joins fast for immigration reform | Naked Politics
  7. ^ a b Garcia offers up proposal as Congress continues to grapple with flood insurance | Naked Politics
  8. ^ MAZZEI, PATRICIA (31 May 2013). "Congressman Joe Garcia’s chief of staff implicated in phantom absentee-ballot requests scheme". Miami Herald (Miami Florida). 
  9. ^ [2].
  10. ^ a b c d e "Representative Joe Garcia's Issue Positions(Political Courage Test)". Vote Smart. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Joe Garcia (Democrat, district 26)". On The Issues. 
  12. ^ Cuban-American lawmakers press White House to keep Cuba on terror list | TheHill
  13. ^ Rep. Garcia’s push for Cuba drug trial tests support for embargo - Political Currents -
  14. ^ Joe Garcia brings a different Cuban-American view to Congress - Sun Sentinel
  15. ^ "Joe García, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel sign gay marriage brief". Gay South Florida. 
  16. ^ "joe Garcia for Congress". Democracy for America. 
  17. ^ "Florida Democratic Congressman Under Fire For Saying 'Communism Works'". Fox News Latino. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (24 July 2013). "House Defeats Effort to Rein In N.S.A. Data Gathering". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "House Vote 412 - Rejects Limits on N.S.A. Data Collection". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Nixon, Ron (4 February 2014). "Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Joe Garcia, D: Fla.-26". Roll Call. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Jaweed Kaleem (3 November 2010). "Joe Garcia concedes to David Rivera, Allen West leads in Congressional race". Miami Herald. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  26. ^ Caputo, Marc (August 21, 2012). "Campaign vendors say Republican Congressman David Rivera funded Democrat’s failed primary bid". Miami Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  27. ^ Marc Caputo; Manny Garcia (2012-09-25). "Rivera ran secret campaign, Sternad tells FBI". The Miami Herald. 
  29. ^ Blake, Aaron (7 December 2012). "House Democrats face long odds in 2014". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  30. ^ "DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Announces 2013-2014 Frontline Members". Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  31. ^ 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
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Pete Gallego
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Dennis Heck