WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A Democratic lawmaker says Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) offended the entire Congressional Black Caucus by delivering Chick-fil-A chicken and biscuits to their weekly meeting -- and then walking out -- when it was his turn to provide the group with a formal lunch.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) told The Huffington Post that the incident happened about six months ago but is now fresh in his mind given West's recent comments in support of the fast food chain, which is run by a well-known Christian and backer of anti-gay religious organizations. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy last week sparked a nationwide response from gay rights activists after publicly denouncing marriage equality.
"We have a rotation in the Congressional Black Caucus where every member provides the lunch one of the weeks when we meet," Hastings said in a Monday interview. The lunches, he said, are often quite delicious.
"We have fried chicken. And we have catfish and BBQ. We do not have watermelon, although sometimes people will have fruit. We serve a full course meal with collard greens. We have Jamaican beans and rice," Hastings said. But West "sent Chick-fil-A with biscuits. Ok?"
"That was an 'in your face.' Every member of the Congressional Black Caucus that was there was offended," he said.
Asked more specifically why lawmakers were insulted, Hastings said it was because they saw West's actions as making a statement in support of the conservative views held by Chick-fil-A leaders. West is the only Republican member of the caucus.
"He did it deliberately," Hastings said, explaining that he saw West's message as, "You know, 'That's what I think of you all.'"
The Democratic lawmaker said West hasn't been back to any CBC meetings since then.
A West spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the CBC also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hastings and West represent adjacent districts in Florida. Hastings is in a solidly Democratic district, but West is running in a newly drawn district this year, the bulk of which President Barack Obama won in 2008. Despite the close proximity of their districts, Hastings said they never talk, not even in passing on Capitol Hill.
"He doesn't speak to me by his own choosing," Hastings said, taking issue with some of West's harsh personal attacks on fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D). Among other things, West last year called her "vile, despicable and cowardly" for challenging his views on Medicare during a House floor debate.
"I wouldn't want to go into his mental state," Hastings added. "All I know is his verbiage and his rhetoric is way over the top. Way over the top."
The Republic Will Collapse
"It's much the same as Alexis de Tocqueville talked about in 'Democracy In America' -- that this American republic will collapse once Congress and obviously our president realizes they can bribe the public by using the public's treasury," Allen West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/allen-west-obama-republic-will-collapse_n_1428851.html" target="_hplink">told a Florida Tea Party group</a>.
"I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party," Allen West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/allen-west-democrats-communist-party_n_1417279.html" target="_hplink">said at a town hall</a>. "It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
"You want to talk about something that's really racist?" West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/allen-west-tanning-salon-tax-racist-_n_1408454.html" target="_hplink">said at a Florida retirement home</a>, referring to a 10 percent tax on tanning salons. "They have a tanning tax. I'm not tanning."
Mocking Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) for wearing a hoodie on the House floor, West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/allen-west-bobby-rush-hoodie_n_1389170.html" target="_hplink">said</a>, "I'm thinking about a University of Tennessee big orange colored hoodie-footie, and, you know, see if I can sneak by the security and get in there."
"This is another example of the bureaucratic nanny-state not considering the economic ramifications of its insidious regulatory policies," West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/allen-west-handicapped-access_n_1385186.html" target="_hplink">said of a proposed regulation</a> to make all public pools handicapped-accessible. "I have talked with and received letters from several South Florida hotels saying this is a wasteful exercise that will cost Florida businesses a lot of money and accomplish nothing."
"Anyone challenging me on my support to this visionary plan to restore our economic security will be signing up for a suicide mission," West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/allen-west-paul-ryan-budget_n_1372386.html" target="_hplink">wrote on his Facebook</a> about the Ryan budget. "My recommendation to any detractors, read Proverbs 17:28 and heed its advice. It is time for those who understand how to govern, not demagogue."
West credited the possibility of a Republican winning the 2012 election for helping improve the stock market. "I would think maybe the markets are looking five to six months down the road when we have a change in leadership in this country," <a href="http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2012/03/allen_west_says_stock_market_i.php" target="_hplink">he said on Fox</a>.
Osama Bin Laden
West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/allen-west-obama-osama-bin-laden_n_1316160.html" target="_hplink">wrote on his Facebook</a> that Barack Obama should stop talking about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. "Please stop with the Osama Bin Laden line, U.S. Navy SEALS double-tapped that rascal," he wrote.
West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/allen-west-second-holocaust-israel-iran_n_1304297.html" target="_hplink">warned</a> that the U.S. might not be doing enough to protect Israel against Iran: <blockquote>"You're looking at a second Holocaust" if Israel doesn't "know they can trust and depend upon the stars and stripes ... to provide them support," West told attendees of a town hall meeting last week at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to the Palm Beach Post.</blockquote>
'Insidious Form Of Slavery'
"The Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom," West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/allen-west-slavery-democratic-handouts_n_1281570.html" target="_hplink">said in a speech</a>.
'Get The Hell Out'
"Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else," West <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/28/allen-west-liberals-get-out-florida-primary-2012_n_1239247.html" target="_hplink">said, referring to Democratic leaders</a>. "You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."
"If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/15/allen-west-joseph-goebbels-democrats-propaganda_n_1152365.html" target="_hplink">West said in a speech</a>.
"I'm here as the modern day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility," West said while <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/allen-west-harriet-tubman_n_930052.html" target="_hplink">making an analogy</a> in which he also compared black leaders like Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to a "plantation boss."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
In an email to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/allen-west-debbie-wasserman-schultz_n_904047.html" target="_hplink">West wrote</a>, "You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up."