Congressional challenger Allen West has accused incumbent Democrat Ron Klein of conspiring with powerful friends to ensure that West isn't able to make charitable contributions to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
In a letter posted yesterday, West claims that he and his wife, Dr. Angela Graham-West, accepted a nomination for South Florida's Finest Couple. In doing so, the Wests were encouraged to help raise $10,000 toward cystic fibrosis and to attend the September 24 gala at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale
But that's before political matters intervened.
She informed me that she has received complaints from certain individuals who have threatened to withdraw their support to the Cystic Fibrosis gala event if Angela and I are honored. She humbly asked if I would agree to step down and allow the event to proceed and not disrupt the support to the foundation. These individuals have called and complained to the National Foundation decrying "politicizing" of the event.
In addition, West claims he was told that his participating in the event would cause other donors to withdraw as much as $200,000 from the foundation. On that basis, he says, he agreed to step aside. But now he has demanded that the foundation make a public apology.
The right-wing blogosphere is in an uproar over this
. In his note, West claims to have an email chain that implicates Congressman Klein's wife, Dori, as well as the McCloskey and Levy families, in the conspiracy. I've contacted the West campaign for that email thread but have yet to hear back. I'll update this post when I do.
But the Levy family has been very quick with its response. Two hours ago, Andrea Levy made this comment to a Facebook thread for the foundation:
I have cystic fibrosis and my family has been supporting the foundation for 20 years now. We are dedicated to foundation in their efforts to improve my quality of life and the lives of 30,000 others. My family is mentioned in this article and it is completely false. Allen West is speaking lies about my family and it hurts me deeply. As someone who is directly dealing with the disease, my family would NEVER I repeat NEVER withdraw their support for CFFfor any reason EVER. The truth is the CFF asked that he step down from being honored since he is a political candidate and the election is 6 weeks after the event. As as non profit organization, they are not suppose to involve themselves in politics and it gives the impression that the foundation is endorsing a candidate. Don't beleive everthing you read! My family and Congressman Klein have done nothing wrong. The foundation simply asked Allen West to kindly step down and this is the maturity that he shows!!!!!!!! Dragging innocent people into this is not the way to show your philanthropic side. If his donations to the foundation truly come from the heart, he would still donate the $10,000 dollars regardless of whether he is honored for it or not. Many people donate thousands of dollars every year and don't ask or want any recognition for it.
Last September, Klein invited Levy
to Washington, D.C., to attend Barack Obama's speech in favor of national health-care reform. Levy's mother, Jo Ann, released this statement today:
I have watched my daughter Andrea fight cystic fibrosis with courage and
grace every single day since she was born. The medicines and support offered
by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation have been essential to her life and
health. The last thing I, or any parent, would ever do is jeopardize our
daughter's health with some short-sighted threat. No parent that I know
would ever dream of doing such a thing. Let me be clear, no threats,
financial or otherwise, were made by me, or my friend Dori Klein, against
the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. None.
What I did do was express my concern about an upcoming event that I felt
had been unnecessarily politicized. As a mother, I have zero patience for
anyone attempting to make a political issue out of what is, quite simply, a
life and death matter. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit, not a
political organization, and it is my strong feeling that no current
candidates for office should be honored at Foundation events.
I am appalled that a Congressional candidate would threaten to withhold
funds from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for any reason, and that he would
drag my family through the mud without regard to what impact it might have
on the quality of care my daughter receives. My commitment to raising funds
and awareness to fight cystic fibrosis is undiminished by this disturbing,
manufactured political controversy.
I've left a message with foundation executive director Landshut this morning but have yet to hear back. Klein's office has not made a statement about the matter.