WASHINGTON (CBS4) – As tensions over the possibility of a potential government default continue to rise; an ugly e-mail battle sprang up Tuesday night between U.S. Representatives Allen West and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Republican congressman Allen West turned to email on Tuesday to call his Democratic colleague from the state, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “vile, despicable and cowardly” after she called into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House.
Rep. West, a first-term Republican from South Florida, wasn’t shy about his online outburst. He sent his peppery email to numerous lawmakers as well as his target, Rep. Wasserman Schultz (D) Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
The subject line of the email: “Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz.”
The e-mail said: “Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. 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.”
In her remarks on the House floor, Wasserman Schultz said: “The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida.”
Wasserman-Schultz was referring to a tea party-backed bill that would have forced draconian cuts of up to 25 percent across-the-board cuts to almost all branches of the government in order to balance the federal budget as part of a balanced budget Constitutional amendment.
The House would approve the bill by a vote of 234-190 with representatives from both parties crossing the aisle to vote in favor and opposing the bill.
In his email, West said Wasserman Schultz has proven “that you are not a Lady” and “shall not be afforded due respect from me!” He said he was alerting House leaders to her “heinous characterless behavior.”
A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, Jonathan Beeton, said in an email of his own: “I don’t think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class. … The truth hurts.”
Locally, Broward County’s Democratic Chair Mitch Cesar said West’s comments were out of line.
“I think he was incredibly inappropriate and overreacted to normal house debate,” Cesar said. “And I think it proves that courtesy is long gone. This seems to be a fundraising device and he will say I am the victim, feel bad for me, now write a check.”
West’s camp did send out fundraising requests using the incident to raise money.
Broward County Republicans disagreed.
“While it may not violate technical protocol; it’s not what she should be doing,” said Broward Republican Party chair David Gobeo. “I believe he needed to defend himself and point out she was making it a personal attack and not about ideas.
Joyce Kaufman, who has been a strident supporter of West, said there was a lot of bad blood between the two politicos, including protests by Wasserman-Schultz of West’s participation in a biker magazine that degraded women.
“That is exactly the reason Allen West was sent to Washington, to stand up and say no to more nonsense,” Kaufman said.