July 23, 2015

Alan Grayson fundraises off fictional Allen West candidacy

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, that tea partier Democrats love to hate, is the inspiration behind two of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson’s fundraising pleas in his U.S. Senate race.

“At 3:23 am this morning, there was a tremor in the Force. No, it was not the planet Alderaan being destroyed – that doesn’t happen until Episode IV. The tremor was caused by another e-mail that landed in my inbox touting Allen West for Senate,” states an email by Grayson who is running against a fellow Democrat in the House, Patrick Murphy. “This is the same Allen West who once called me “despicable,” “demeaning” and “disgusting” – the Triple Crown of insults starting with the letter “D”. Perhaps West was angling for the Nobel Prize in Literature, if it were awarded by Sesame Street.”

This is based on a Denver-based group that is fundraising for West for the Senate in Florida, Politico reported. But West, who lost to Murphy in 2012, isn’t running in Florida -- he moved to Texas last year to become the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“No, he is absolutely not running,” Catherine Daniell, a spokesperson at the center told the Miami Herald. “He lives in Texas now. The “fundraising” effort is a scam, which he says is disgusting.”

But that hasn’t stopped Grayson from citing his name to drum up dollars.

“West thinks that I’m a Marxist. (Karl, not Groucho.) How do I know that? Because he said so,” Grayson wrote in a fundraising email.

At a town hall meeting in 2012, West said that about 78 to 81 House Democrats “are members of the Communist Party. ... It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Grayson along with some other Florida Democrats are members of that caucus.

"Trust me -- if a member of Congress applied to join the Communist Party we would know about it," Libero Della Piana, vice president of the Communist Party USA told PolitiFact Florida at the time. "It would set up some red flags -- pardon the pun."

It raised red flags for PolitiFact Florida too -- earning the claim a rating of Pants on Fire

June 29, 2015

Annette Taddeo cites bogeyman Allen West in fundraising email

Former Congressman Allen West is long gone from Florida, but hey when it’s fundraising time is there any better bogeyman for a Democratic candidate?

From a fundraising plea today by Annette Taddeo who is running for Congress in a Miami-Dade/Monroe County swing district against first-term U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

“Nancy Pelosi and Ben Ray Luján wouldn’t be emailing you if it weren’t important. And believe us: tomorrow’sdeadline is critical. Here’s why:

FIRST: We told you how Congressman Carlos Curbelo has the backing of the Koch brothers and right wing special interests groups.

NOW: We just learned former Congressman Allen West has pledged to support Rep. Curbelo and his reelection campaign.

This is the very same Allen West who said Obama supporters were “a threat to the gene pool” and made numerous inflammatory comments about women.”

West was elected in a Broward/Palm Beach district as part of a tea party wave in 2010 but after redistricting lost his seat in a newly drawn district to Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2012. After losing the election, West became a Fox news contributor and then in November 2014 took a job in Texas as CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

March 26, 2015

Allen West's claim about the EPA and backyard BBQs

Hands off our backyard barbecues, says former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.

West -- now the president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based free-market think tank -- leapt to the defense of home-cooked meat in a signed item posted on his personal website on March 19, 2015.

The article was headlined, "Two things the EPA wants to regulate in your life," and referred to alleged interest by the Environmental Protection Agency in backyard barbecues and hotel shower water. Here’s an excerpt of West’s post:

"Ladies and gents, I just cannot ascertain when the absurdity of this current administration will cease. The weather is finally warming up and one of the rituals of spring and summer is the family BBQ. Well, it is for now until the Environmental Protection Agency has its way.

"As reported by Fox News, ‘the EPA is funding a $15,000 University of California-Riverside study to look at the particulate emissions you breathe when grilling over an open flame. … Why is the EPA concerned about BBQ grill emissions? Who are these people and why are they using one single dime of American taxpayer dollars for this tomfoolery?"

A reader saw West’s claim about barbecue and asked us to check it out. So we took a look at whether West was correct that the EPA wants to regulate the family BBQ. Turn to Louis Jacobson's fact-check from PunditFact.

January 05, 2015

Jeb Bush, Rick Scott, Allen West made claims that were in PolitiFact Florida's Top 10 in 2014

As we head into Gov. Rick Scott's second term, PolitiFact Florida reflects on what our readers found most popular last year, we noticed an interesting trend -- many of our most widely read fact-checks for 2014 weren’t election-related at all. Whatever could pique readers’ interest more than gubernatorial candidates’ records on education spending or jobs numbers?

The Top 10 included a claim by former Gov. Jeb Bush about economic/social mobility, a claim by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz about Hobby Lobby and birth control, claims by former U.S. Rep. Allen West about illegal immigrants and lead bullets and our story about Fangate, the famous debate between Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott. 

Turn to PolitiFact Florida find out which were the top 10 items of the year.

January 25, 2013

Allen West launches foundation

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West has launched a nonprofit Allen West Foundation. His spokesperson released no details about the Boca Raton-foundation. West,  who lost in November to Democrat Patrick Murphy, transferred $250,000 in unspent money from his campaign to the foundation. He also transferred the same amount to American Legacy Guardians which shares the same PO Box as the foundation. We were unable to get an immediate explanation from his spokeswoman about the connection between the two entities. West now works for PJ Media.

December 18, 2012

Allen West's final weekly newsletter faces the Truth-O-Meter

The first week of December in Congress was dominated by news about the fiscal cliff. So you will forgive us if we overlooked this other tidbit tucked into the final weekly newsletter sent by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens.

"This week we voted in the House of Representatives to remove the word ‘lunatic’ from federal law," wrote West, who lost a close race to Democrat Patrick Murphy in District 18 in Florida’s Treasure Coast. "However, that does not mean there isn't plenty of lunacy going on in the workings of the federal government!"

We can’t fact-check the amount of lunacy in Washington, D.C., but we couldn’t resist looking into whether the House actually voted to remove the word "lunatic" from federal law. Read PolitiFact for the full story.

December 06, 2012

Change in political climate: Patrick Murphy talks global warming

One measure of the changing political climate in Florida and Washington: Democratic U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy, a political novice who ousted Republican Allen West in a tight race, made an impromptu stop at a four-county climate change conference in Jupiter on Monday to pledge his support for legislation addressing the issue.

Murphy said he would be a "passionate advocate" for Everglades and other environmental issues in Washington, subjects largely dismissed by West, perhaps best known for fiery rhetoric that had made him a Tea Party favorite. Murphy, an avid angler who grew up in the Florida Keys, said he had no doubts about the risks posed by rising sea levels.

"Unfortunately we have far too many politicians who continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend its not happening," Murphy said in brief remarks to at fourth annual Southeast Florida regional climate leadership summit, which was attended by political leaders, planners and others from seven counties.

After a three-week legal challenge and a partial recount, West conceded the race for Florida House District 18, which covers northeastern Palm Beach County and Martin and St. Lucie counties.

--- by Curtis Morgan

November 20, 2012

Allen West's not-so-gracious concession in loss to Rep-elect Patrick Murphy

A statement from soon-to-be-former Rep. Allen West:

For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly.  We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process.  While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.

Continue reading "Allen West's not-so-gracious concession in loss to Rep-elect Patrick Murphy" »

November 07, 2012

Updated results: Patrick Murphy defeats Allen West, avoids automatic recount

As Florida elections results were updated overnight, Democrat Patrick Murphy's lead over Republican Rep. Allen West widened and Murphy now appears to have defeated West by 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent -- a wide enough margin to avoid a recount.

Recounts are triggered by a margin within 0.5 percent.

We've updated our online story on South Florida congressional races to reflect the new results:

Another Republican incumbent, Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens, appeared to lose to Democrat Patrick Murphy by 2,456 votes in the early hours of Wednesday. Murphy got 50.4 percent of the vote to West’s 49.6 percent.

In District 18, there are still hundreds provisional ballots to be counted, but in those cases voters have to provide information to prove their ballots should be counted and it’s unlikely that all of them will, Eric Johnson, Murphy’s campaign consultant, said Wednesday morning. There are also absentee ballots remaining to be counted in Palm Beach.

The state elections website showed that the district which encompasses Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties gave a 2,456 voter edge to Murphy.

“There is no scenario where the 2,400 [edge that Murphy as] gets overturned,” he said. “Right now we are 700 votes outside the recount measure.”

The West campaign has not conceded, Johnson said. West’s campaign manager didn’t respond to emails Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Johnson said that he believes Murphy, 29, will become the youngest member of the next Congress but not the youngest in history.

Johnson attributed Murphy’s win to voters anger about attack ads.

“Patrick’s message over and over that we have to work together, not be divisive, the name calling has got to stop really sold with voters in the Treasure Coast,” Johnson said.

West was a Tea Party favorite and first-term member of Congress while Murphy is a 29-year-old businessman. In his first political race, Murphy tapped into Democrats’ nationwide distaste for West— a regular on Fox News who drew attention for saying several dozen of Democrats in the House are communists and calling U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) “vile.”

West raised about $17 million while Murphy raised more than $3.7 million in one of the most expensive House contests in the nation.

Murphy’s father gave $250,000 to a PAC that created an ad depicting a caricature of West, who is African-American, in boxing gloves punching an old white woman, a younger white woman and grabbing money from a black family. The ad was intended to depict West socking it to constituents over Medicare, health care and tax cuts.

More here.

October 16, 2012

PolitiFact checks character attacks in the Allen West vs. Patrick Murphy race

Years before Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West of South Florida was famous for calling about 80 members of Congress "communists", he was famous for something else far away from the partisan wars in Washington D.C.

Lt. Col. West initially became famous for his treatment of an Iraqi detainee, when he fired his gun over his head trying to extract information from him in 2003. West was ultimately fined and retired from the Army. While he said his methods weren’t right, he also defended himself:

"If it's about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," he testified.

He moved to South Florida, started to speak to locals about his Army experience and the brash-talking black Republican launched his Congressional bid. His campaign drew scant attention in 2008, but two years later, amid a tea party spirit and anger about the economy, a well-financed West ousted U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

In 2012, redistricting transformed the Broward/Palm Beach Congressional District 22 from a swing district to left-leaning, so West moved his campaign to safer conservative territory, specifically the newly drawn District 18, which spans parts of Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties. Based on voter performance, this could be close: These voters narrowly went for George W. Bush in 2004 and narrowly for Obama in 2008.

West is now far ahead in an expensive campaign war with a 29-year-old political newcomer and Democrat, Patrick Murphy, whose wealthy family owns a successful construction business. PolitiFact checks two dueling character ads  in this race -- one about Murphy's drunken arrest when he was 19 and the other about the end of West's military career. The ads are biting, but are they true? Read PolitiFact's  analysis.