“Character and honesty matter to voters, and Rivera has failed that test,” Estes said. “Joe Garcia will continue his issues-based campaign that offers voters a chance to turn the page on this embarrassing time for our community.”
The electric bills claim stems to Garcia’s time on Florida’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. When Rivera made a similar attack against Garcia in their congressional race two years ago, PolitiFact Florida called it “False” because Garcia was not present at a vote to raise Florida Power & Light rates.
When Gloria Romero Roses, a Garcia primary opponent this year, made a similar claim based on additional Garcia votes on the PSC, PolitiFact called it “Half True” because while Garcia voted for some rate hikes, whether the totality of his votes amounted to an increase or decrease for consumers depended on where the consumer lived.
El Nuevo Herald recently found the other claims made by Rivera were also off base.
Rivera has claimed that while Garcia headed the office of minority economic impact and diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy, he steered a federal stimulus contract to a Puerto Rico-based firm, CSA Group, that later hired Garcia once he left Washington D.C. CSA has also contributed to Garcia’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns.
The energy department, however, told El Nuevo Herald that Garcia’s office was not involved in the CSA contracts. The energy department awarded the stimulus contract to the commonwealth of Puerto Rico before Garcia worked in the federal government. Puerto Rico chose CSA as the vendor after Garcia was in the job at Energy Department.
Rivera has also claimed that Garcia is under investigation by the Federal Election Commission for campaign finance violations. Yet the FEC told El Nuevo Herald that no such investigation exists. An FEC letter featured in Rivera’s ad notifies Garcia that he has filed contributions in excess of the permissible, $5,000 limit.
Rivera’s ad does accurately say that Garcia’s congressional campaigns in 2010 and in 2008 against Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart received the support of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.
Miami Herald staff writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report.