Rep. Allen West (Fla.), the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent a sharp missive to the CBC’s chairman Wednesday slamming recent comments about the tea party from the group’s Democratic members and stating that there was “race-baiting” behind the rhetoric from a fellow CBC member.
In a letter to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), the tea party-affiliated West called recent public remarks by Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) “unconscionable ... baseless and desperate” and characterized a statement from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) that the tea party “can go straight to hell” as “appalling.”
It was Carson whom West singled out for the most significant criticism, saying he believed such rhetoric was “racist.”
“Congressman Carson’s desire to generally criticize a large grassroots group as racist is baseless and desperate,” West wrote. “When individuals believe they are defeated in a political disagreement, they normally resort to race-baiting, which in my opinion is in itself racist.”
West added that “in order to cover for the failings of the Obama Administration and the economic policies which have led to unemployment of more than 15 percent in the Black community, the CBC strategy is to demonize the Tea Party.”
Reiterating an earlier comment that he was pondering leaving the group, West threatened to part ways with the CBC. “I believe it is incumbent on you to both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks,” West wrote to Cleaver. “Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters following a vote in the Senate. Gillibrand’s proposal to remove military commanders from the process of reviewing sexual-assault cases was left out of the bicameral deal on the defense authorization bill, but the senator is pushing for a vote on her plan soon.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.