The only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus has written to the group’s chairman insisting that he condemn a fellow caucus member over remarks he made about some members of Congress affiliated with the tea party—and is threatening to quit the group if he doesn’t.
Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., in a letter dated Wednesday to CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., wrote, "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.”
“Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization,” West warned.
West, who is among the House members most prominently seen as aligned with tea party groups, is mostly taking issue with comments made at a town hall in Florida earlier in August by Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, a member of the CBC leadership team.
Carson had suggested that some tea partyers in Congress see African Americans as “second-class citizens” and that they would be happy to see blacks “hanging on a tree.” But West also took umbrage in his letter to a suggestion he complains was made by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., that the tea party can “go straight to hell.”
"It is unconscionable when a fellow CBC member, Congressman Andre Carson, comes to South Florida and claims that some in the tea party would love to see black Americans 'hanging on a tree.' It is appalling to hear another CBC colleague, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, say 'The tea party can go straight to hell,' " West wrote to Cleaver.
Stephanie Young, a spokeswoman for the CBC, had no direct comment on West’s letter, or on his threat to quit the caucus.
"Members of the CBC are in the midst of the final event of the Congressional Black Caucus's `For the People' Jobs Initiative in Los Angeles,” Young said. “Throughout the month of August, over 20,000 people have attended a CBC Jobs Initiative event in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, and now Los Angeles. Real people are hurting, and the members of the CBC remain focused on getting Americans back to work."
West joined the Black Caucus after coming to Congress in January and after the other new African-American GOP freshman, Tim Scott of South Carolina, declined to do so. Because of his strongly conservative views, some Black Caucus members reportedly were reluctant at first to have him join, but later clarified that he would be welcome.