A group of Democratic female members on Wednesday called on Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) to apologize to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) for sending a scathing email that called her “vile,” despicable” and “not a lady.” The lawmakers also have sent a letter to House Republican leaders, asking them to rebuke West for his actions.
“By any objective viewing of her floor speech, she was well within the rules of decorum for our chamber. Yet, Mr. West’s response was completely out of order and an offensive personal attack with a clearly sexist tone,” they wrote. “We call on you to disavow this response in the strongest of terms. We also call on Mr. West to immediately apologize to Ms. Wasserman Schultz and vow to keep debate about policy, not personality.”
At a news conference, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) said that in any other workplace, West would face a sexual harassment charge.
“For his own good, they ought to take him into the woodshed and say, ‘If you want to survive in this work environment, you’ve got to be cordial and congenial and civil even when you’re disagreeing,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin). “It makes for a very hard career otherwise.”
During an appearance on MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz said that West is facing a lot of pressure over his position on budget cuts.
“I think Republicans like him are under a tremendous amount of pressure. They have about the worst position you could have when it comes to making sure that we protect seniors and ensure that their costs don't go up. Balancing that, instead of what they’re doing, which is championing and protecting millionaires’ and billionaires’ tax breaks,” she said. “And so obviously there was a little bit of heat that was applied in debate on the House floor yesterday, and he doesn't appear to be able to deal with it.”
West’s email was a topic of discussion during the Congressional Black Caucus’s weekly meeting. The group won’t be taking a public position on the matter, but were clearly disappointed and baffled by their lone Republican member’s behavior.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) told reporters that the email was “shocking to the conscience.”
“I thought it was just unfortunate that one member would send another member an email like that,” he said.