None of the news so far has dampened Garcia’s fundraising prowess; he reported contributions of $411,000 in the quarter ending Sept. 30.
One campaign contribution stood out: a $2,500 check from his friend and current lobbyist William Delahunt, who is representing a company seeking federal approval to test a Cuba-invented diabetes drug in the United States.
Days after recording the Sept. 19 contribution, Garcia quietly backed the drug-treatment effort by circulating an email to some other congressional members asking them to sign a letter backing U.S. tests, which need U.S. Treasury approval due to the Cuba embargo.
Garcia’s campaign points out that Delahunt, a former congressman from Massachusetts, isn’t just an old friend — he’s a longtime supporter who held a fundraiser for Garcia in his first congressional race in 2008.
Still, Garcia’s advocacy for the Cuban-drug tests marked the first time experts could remember a Cuban-American congressman backing an effort like this; other Cuban-American lawmakers wouldn’t sign or support the letter.
Garcia, who backs the embargo and Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror, said he supported the drug test because it held promise to help diabetics and possibly prevent up to 70,000 amputations yearly. Critics said the drug is like other Cuba “snake-oil” promises that just give the regime a public-relations victory.
Garcia’s main Republican rival, Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo, criticized Garcia for spending his time advocating for the drug along with anti-embargo Democratic congressmen.
With the latest payment to Jeffrey Garcia, Curbelo issued a statement questioning why the congressman would pay “his former campaign manager, chief of staff, and roommate $50,000” amid the investigations.
“Joe Garcia’s conduct continues to disgrace and embarrass our community,” Curbelo said.
Staff writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report