A Democratic lawmaker says Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) “deliberately” offended members of the Congressional Black Caucus by having chicken and biscuits from Chick-fil-A catered to their weekly meeting, the Huffington Post reports.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said West even went a step further and walked out of the meeting even though it was his turn to provide the group with a formal lunch. He told the Huffington Post that the incident took place roughly 6 months ago but he apparently feels they are relevant given the recent controversy surrounding restaurant President Dan Cathy’s decision to publicly back traditional marriage.
West recently voiced his support of Chick-fil-A.
“We have a rotation in the Congressional Black Caucus where every member provides the lunch one of the weeks when we meet,” Hastings told HuffPo on Monday.
“We have fried chicken. And we have catfish and BBQ. We do not have watermelon, although sometimes people will have fruit. We serve a full course meal with collard greens. We have Jamaican beans and rice,” Hastings said. “But West “sent Chick-fil-A with biscuits. Ok?”
“That was an ‘in your face.’ Every member of the Congressional Black Caucus that was there was offended,” he added.
West is the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Even though the Chick-fil-A controversy hadn’t erupted yet, Hastings said lawmakers were insulted because they felt West was making as statement and promoting the conservative views held by Chick-fil-A ownership.
“He did it deliberately,” Hastings said, explaining that he saw West’s message as, “You know, ‘That’s what I think of you all.’”
The Huffington Post has more details:
The Democratic lawmaker said West hasn’t been back to any CBC meetings since then.
A West spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the CBC also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hastings and West represent adjacent districts in Florida. Hastings is in a solidly Democratic district, but West is running in a newly drawn district this year, the bulk of which President Barack Obama won in 2008. Despite the close proximity of their districts, Hastings said they never talk, not even in passing on Capitol Hill.
“He doesn’t speak to me by his own choosing,” Hastings said, taking issue with some of West’s harsh personal attacks on fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D). Among other things, West last year called her “vile, despicable and cowardly” for challenging his views on Medicare during a House floor debate.”
“I wouldn’t want to go into his mental state,” Hastings added. “All I know is his verbiage and his rhetoric is way over the top. Way over the top.”
There is one scenario that Hastings has failed to consider: Maybe the chicken from Chick-fil-A is just delicious and that’s why West chose to provide it at the meeting — 6 months ago.
Angela Melvin, a spokeswoman for West, told ABC News that the food choice “had nothing to do” with the company’s political views.
“He loves Chick-fil-A,” Melvin told ABC News. “Catered the event on something that was affordable and what average Americans eat. The fact that Mr. Hastings would turn this into anything else is laughable and desperate.”
Disputing Hastings’ claims that everyone in the meeting was deeply offended, Melvin said there was “not a plate left” by the end of the meeting.
West recently said he was raised on Chick-fil-A and that he “loves” the restaurant when talking about how free speech factors into the controversy. Watch here via Shark Tank Media: