It’s never a good sign when congressional staffers feel the need to reassure reporters that their boss does not hate women. But that’s where Florida Republican Rep. Allen West’s staff have found themselves on Thursday. “He has been married to a Ph.D. for 20 years, he has two teenage daughters,” spokeswoman Angela Sachitano told TIME. “Congressman West does not hate women.”
West was put on the defensive when Politico obtained an e-mail tirade he sent to Florida Democrat and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz calling her “vile,” “despicable” and “not a lady.” It’s not the first time he’s had to deflect charges of sexism.
During the 2010 campaign, West came under fire for his contributions to a salacious Florida biker magazine called Wheels on the Road. West had written some relatively dry Tea Party-themed political columns for the ribald outlet and his opponents sought to make hay of the association. His e-mail to Wasserman Schultz may revive the issue.
Wheels on the Road has used extreme language in discussing Wasserman Schultz. The July 2011 issue featured a rant about the congresswoman by a columnist named “Nasty,” who more than lived up to his name, calling the Democrat “Debbie Wasserman Shitz.” An October 2010 issue, in which West had an unrelated column, included a obscene tirade on Wasserman Shultz in which a contributor named Willie Woo asked readers to “imagine” intercourse with the congresswoman.
The magazine, which regularly shows women exposing their breasts, still displays a photo of West on its website and calls him a “contributor.” But West’s spokeswoman says he has not contributed to the magazine since he took office, and that when he did, his columns did not contain anything obscene.
“As a candidate building his profile down in South Florida, Congressman West contributed to many South Florida periodicals,” Sachitano said, “including magazines that coincide with his hobbies of Diving and Motorcycles, as well as veterans magazines.”
West’s October 2010 piece was his last. In it, he decried “the politics of personal assassination” aligned against him.