Rep. Carlos Curbelo is calling on the FBI to monitor Florida’s elections systems ahead of the 2016 general election.
Attorneys for the Miami Republican sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey Monday, asking the FBI to “closely monitor the election systems and databases in the State of Florida to ensure attempts to breach Florida’s election systems are detected and prevented.”
Attorneys for Curbelo, who is running for re-election in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, point to recent news of attempted hacks into the state Board of Elections database and systems as part of their reasoning for their request. However, the attorneys also note Curbleo’s opponent, former Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, has a history of condoning election fraud.
“While we appreciate and have confidence in the integrity and ability of Florida’s elections officials, it is important to note that there are individuals who may seek to take unfair advantage of any attempts to hack and compromise the elections databases,” the letter reads. “In particular, the campaigns of Joe Garcia, the Democratic nominee for the 26th Congressional District, have had a proven history of engaging in or condoning election fraud.”
The letter goes on to say Garcia’s former chief of staff and chief campaign strategist “pleaded guilty to election fraud-related crimes in two previous elections.”
According to POLITICO Florida, a Garcia staffer was the mastermind of a scheme to divert money to a phony tea party candidate to take votes away from a Republican rival. The staff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge last year.
While Garcia denied knowledge of the incident, POLITICO Florida reported the FBI found an email that indicated he might have known about the scheme. However, he was never indicted or named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Still, attorneys for Curbelo said their client and his campaign have “good reason to request that the FBI closely monitor the election databases and systems” in the congressional district and across the state.
There might be another reason to monitor the election systems across the state. In August, POLITICO reported hackers from outside of the United States broke into two state election databases. And last month, Florida elections officials held a conference call to discuss security. A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State told the Miami Herald at the time there has been no indication of a “Florida-specific issue.”
“We request that the FBI remain vigilant in working with state and local authorities to monitor the state and county elections databases,” attorneys for Curbelo wrote. “We further request that the FBI provide periodic updates regarding any further attempts to compromise state election systems. The integrity of our elections is vital. Rep. Curbelo seeks nothing more than a clean and fair election, and the voters of 26th Congressional District deserve nothing less.”