Jameel McCline, the Democratic challenger to Alcee Hastings for Florida's 20th Congressional District, was caught on video in a heated exchange in which he dropped a homophobic slur as well as a term used against mentally challenged people toward his daughter's ex-boyfriend and that man's mother.
The video, shot by the woman on a cell phone on July 29, caught McCline pacing on his driveway in Delray Beach, arguing with the young man and his mother. McCline accused the woman of being a drunk and called her a "retard."
McCline, a former heavyweight boxer, is running against Hastings, who has been mired in controversy of his own over the years.
Update: McCline has released a statement about the video and spoke with New Times regarding the incident.
"These words are beneath me," McCline told New Times, over his calling the kid "faggot" during the heated exchange caught on video.
"It is regrettable that I used that word. I'm not homophobic; I have two nieces that are gay. And I'm sorry I used such a horrible word that is beneath me and the office that I seek. I'm sorry about that. I really am."
McCline went on to explain his relationship with his daughter's ex-boyfriend, saying he took him in and helped him and his mother.
"I took him in when no one else would," McCline tells New Times. "I bought his mother an SUV, I paid $3,000 in dental work for the kid, whose mouth was a mess. I even got him a $57,000 scholarship for a preparatory school in Connecticut."
McCline says he took the kid in for three months, only to be "betrayed" by him.
"He was disrespectful to me, extremely disrespectful to my daughter," he says. "And my paternal instincts kicked in and I spoke out of anger. And I am sorry.
"I have always sought to protect the least, the lost, and left out," McCline says. "And using that word is beneath the office I seek where I want to serve the least, the lost, and the left out."
McCline also tweeted out this statement:
I mentored a young man who disrespected my daughter. In the heat of the moment, in protecting my daughter, I used regrettable language.— Jameel McCline (@BigtimeMcCline) August 19, 2014
The video, obtained by Gossip Extra, shows Delray Police at McCline's driveway, trying to keep the peace as the young man's mother and McCline exchange verbal blows.
McCline claims in the video to have helped the woman and the man but says the pair showed little gratitude or respect for the help. McCline's daughter eventually gets involved in the shouting match, throwing items that supposedly belong to the woman off the terrace overlooking the driveway.
In the video, McCline, 44, accuses the ex-boyfriend, Leonard Moore, 19, of being disrespectful to his daughter and to him.
It's around the nine-minute mark that things between McCline and Moore get verbally heated. Moore accuses McCline of getting physical with him.
"Dude, I pushed you," McCline says back to Moore. "What? You can't take a push?"
Moore says something back that is inaudible, in which McCline responds, "So what, punk? So what, you faggot?" before walking off in anger.
McCline reappears and then begins lashing out at the police who are taping the incident.
The entire time, it's clear McCline knows he's being videotaped.
New Times has reached out a McCline spokesperson for comment but has yet to hear back.
McCline is facing off against Hastings in the August 26 primary for the district that encompasses Fort Lauderdale and parts of Palm Beach County.
Hastings, the former judge who has been in Congress since 1993, has been caught up in a flood of controversy himself. Among his more egregious wrongdoings, a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a staffer on 2011 and being caught using taxpayer money to pay for a Lexus sedan in 2008. The sexual harassment case was eventually dismissed.
McCline himself comes from a rough background, having spent five years in prison for gun-running before becoming a professional boxer.
McCline fought for the heavyweight title four times, losing all four bouts.
Last week, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief endorsed McCline for Congress.