Lt. Col. Allen West
Allen West, a retired U.S. Army officer and GOP candidate for Congress in Florida, claims he was disinvited from a high-profile charity fundraiser after his Democratic rival’s wife “prodded” donors to protest and “blackmail” the organization.
West, the GOP candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, and his wife, Angela, had accepted an invitation from the South Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to be honored as South Florida Finest Couple on Sept. 24. They agreed to raise $10,000 for the foundation in accepting the nomination.
However, West said he received a phone call from the executive director of the foundation requesting that he and his wife withdraw from the affair.
“She informed me that she has received complaints from certain individuals who have threatened to withdraw their support to the Cystic Fibrosis gala event if Angela and I are honored,” West wrote in a July 19 letter to event chairman William Lewis posted on Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs blog. “She humbly asked if I would agree to step down and allow the event to proceed and not disrupt the support to the foundation. These individuals have called and complained to the National Foundation decrying ‘politicizing’ of the event.”
West said he was told the foundation could lose as much as $200,000 if it kept him on the list. His name has been removed from the foundation’s list of honorees. In his letter, he demanded a formal letter of apology to his wife.
West also said he has evidence that the person behind the complaints to the foundation was the wife of his Democratic challenger, Rep. Ron Klein.
“It has come to my attention that the McCloskey and Levy families are the donors who have threatened to withdraw support due to prodding from the wife of Congressman Ron Klein,” he wrote. “I find this reprehensible, disgusting, despicable and petulant … but indicative of the hideous side of South Florida politics which I condemn. There is proof of this, to include an email trail, and I would appreciate your honesty when this becomes a topic of inquiry.”
Klein’s office neither released a statement on the allegations nor returned WND’s requests for comment.
However, one of the donor families named in the letter blasted West in a comment on the foundation’s Facebook page. Andrea Levy wrote:
I have cystic fibrosis and my family has been supporting the foundation for 20 years now. We are dedicated to foundation in their efforts to improve my quality of life and the lives of 30,000 others. … Allen West is speaking lies about my family and it hurts me deeply. As someone who is directly dealing with the disease, my family would NEVER I repeat NEVER withdraw their support for (the foundation) for any reason EVER. The truth is (the foundation) asked that he step down from being honored since he is a political candidate and the election is 6 weeks after the event. As a nonprofit organization, they are not suppose to involve themselves in politics and it gives the impression that the foundation is endorsing a candidate. Don’t believe everything you read! My family and Congressman Klein have done nothing wrong. The foundation simply asked Allen West to kindly step down and this is the maturity that he shows!
The Broward–Palm Beach New Times reported Klein invited Levy to Washington, D.C., to attend President Obama’s September 2009 speech in favor of national health-care reform.
Allen West speaks at CPAC this year. (photo: Allen West campaign)
Levy’s mother, Jo Ann, released a statement to the New Times saying:
“Let me be clear, no threats, financial or otherwise, were made by me, or my friend Dori Klein, against the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. None. What I did do was express my concern about an upcoming event that I felt had been unnecessarily politicized. As a mother, I have zero patience for anyone attempting to make a political issue out of what is, quite simply, a life-and-death matter. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit, not a political organization, and it is my strong feeling that no current candidates for office should be honored at Foundation events.”
In his letter, West noted that the foundation has honored political figures in the past. BrowardNetOnline.com noted GOP Rep. Adam Putnam and his wife, Melissa, were nominees last year. Likewise, other nominees included Gov. Charlie Crist, Weston City Commissioner Angel Gomez and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.
West wrote, “I felt that our service to this nation and local community warranted our nomination.”
As WND reported, West was introduced to the nation in 2003 when he faced criminal charges for using shock interrogation tactics to protect his soldiers in Iraq. As WND reported in 2003, West was threatened with court-martial for tactics he used to flush out information from an uncooperative Iraqi policeman. Threatening to kill the Iraqi if he didn’t talk, West fired a pistol near the policeman’s head, producing an immediate flood of information that purportedly led to the arrest of two insurgents and cessation of attacks on West’s 4th Infantry Division battalion.
Army prosecutors charged West with aggravated assault, and he faced the possibility of up to eight years in prison. At a hearing, West was asked by his defense attorney if he would do it again.
West responded, “If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”
In his letter to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chairman, West concluded, “I hold no angst against you as the chairman of the event, Ms. Landshut, or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. However, I am highly upset with those who would blackmail the Foundation in order to play politics.”