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Republican congressman claims 78-81 Democrats are communists

April 11, 2012|By Morgan Little

Reporting from Washington — If you believe Rep. Alan West (R-Fla.), there are upwards of 78 to 81 members of the Communist Party sitting in Congress within the Democratic Party, an accusation that riled his colleagues and has drawn criticism from the accused.

During a town hall event in Jensen Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night, West addressed a member of the audience who asked about how many members of the Democratic Party are “card-carrying Marxist Socialists,” and made a bold claim about his coworkers in the Capitol.

“That’s a fair question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,”  West said.

Tim Edson, a spokesman for West, later elaborated on the congressman’s remarks.

“He stands by his words. But the words the media needs to pay attention to are the words of the members of the Progressive Caucus,” Edson said in a statement released Wednesday. “They speak for themselves. Call it what you may, but these House members are clearly not proponents of capitalism, free markets or individual economic freedom.”

While West may believe the caucus to be proponents of communism, Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the Communist Party, denied that any of them are members of the party. “I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy,” Piana said in an interview with Politico.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Az.), the co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, also slammed West’s comments.

“Allen West is denigrating the millions of Americans who voted to elect Congressional Progressive Caucus members,” Grijalva said. “And he is ignoring the oath they took to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution — just like he did.”

West, a favorite of the Tea Party and who has recently been suggested as a possible vice presidential candidate by Sarah Palin and Herman Cain, also had some strong words for President Obama.

"I really wish that, standing here before you, were Allen West and President Obama," West told the crowd of 100. "We could have a simple discussion. But that ain't ever gonna happen."

A member of the audience asked why, and West responded, “Because he was too scared!”

Watch West’s remarks below.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: Republican congressman claims 78-81 Democrats are communists

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