FL22: Tea Party’s Allen West Once Said GOP Was Corrupt, Now Schmoozes with Boehner, Takes Bucks from Bailed-Out Corporations, Lobbyists

One of the oddest aspects of the 2010 midterms is how swing and right-leaning independent voters seem to be so willing to overlook troubling character flaws in fringe candidates, as long as the candidates repeat the tea party’s false narratives about bailouts, the Stimulus and the size of government.

There is no better example of this in the House races than in Florida’s 22nd District where voters appear set to replace Democratic Rep. Ron Klein with Allen West, a former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who was relieved of command in Iraq and forced to retire after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a policeman in his custody.

“Frustration and anger overcame his professional ethics and personal values, and he performed what he knew to be illegal and immoral acts,” according to a statement issued by the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division. In other words, he popped off under pressure and tortured a prisoner — just the personality type we need in Congress.

More recently, West has been criticized for his role as a columnist for a biker magazine that routinely dehumanizes women and his associations with the Outlaws biker gang, which is classified as a violent criminal organization:

The Department of Justice has said the Outlaws are a gang known for making and distributing meth, committing homicide, and prostitution. The Outlaws have been called “organized crime” syndicate. The Outlaws have a history of denigrating women and considering women property — actually branding women like cattle. [Justice Department, National Gang Threat Assessment 2009, Published January 2009]

Truer to his tea bagger roots, Allen West also made news last week when thugs clad in leather threatened a tracker from the Klein campaign and forced him to leave a campaign event at a public park. The incident happened around the same time that paid thugs working for Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller “arrested” a reporter for aggressively questioning the candidate about allegations he faced ethics charges when he worked for a local government.

With all that in mind, it seems odd that West would accuse anyone else of corruption — and it’s even more surprising that he leveled that particular charge against his own party:

WEST: [The] GOP violated their own Contract with America and became a lesser version of the liberals, big spending and corruption.

Leaving aside how delusional it is to compare the number of Dems who faced corruption charges with the number of Republicans who were accused of or charged with corruption from 1994 to 2006 — a list that includes former Speaker Newt Gingrich, for Majority Leader Tom DeLay, White House advisors Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and former attorneys general Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft, GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Duke Cunningham, just to name a few — a report last week suggests West has done a 180-degree flip-flop on his attitude about big money and the GOP:

Florida candidate Allen West, a former Army officer and early tea party favorite who once criticized existing Republican lawmakers as “a lesser version of the liberals [on] big spending and corruption,” has also taken $15,000 from the two House leaders [Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor], part of a more than $71,000 haul from at least 37 House Republican incumbents.

And where did Boehner get the money he funneled to West? Mainly from two sources: Washington-based corporate lobbyists and bailed out corporations — both of which tea baggers like West supposedly despise.

As more evidence that West has abandoned his purportedly principled tea party anti-establishment stance, he invited Boehner, a notorious Washington fatcat boozer and schmoozer, down to Florida last week to do a little campaigning:

On Monday, Republican Leader John Boehner campaigned in south Florida with congressional candidate Allen West, who is also featured on Boehner’s campaign website. On Tuesday, the NRCC touted West’s candidacy at National Journal forum.

It’s clear what Boehner wants from Allen West — he is trying to buy a tea bagger’s vote in his race to be elected speaker if the GOP takes the House next Tuesday. And what West wants from Boehner is what every freshman House member wants: better committee assignments and plusher office digs.

Bottom line: Swing and right-leaning voters should beware. The Republican Party may have tried to camouflage its old identity with the tea party brand, but it has not changed its stripes. There is no better proof of this than one-time outsider candidate Allen West’s eagerness to abandon his core principles when a D.C. insider like Boehner dangles the prerequisites of power in front of him.

This is the second match-up between West and Rep. Ron Klein. A recent independent Sunshine State News Service poll suggests West is ahead this time, 47 percent to 44 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *