Allen West attacks Patrick Murphy over college bar fight

September 28, 2012

Locked in a tight race for reelection, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is attacking his Democratic opponent over a college arrest outside a bar.

The congressman's latest ad contrasts what West and Democrat Patrick Murphy were doing on Feb. 16, 2003.

"Fort Hood, Texas: Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders and prepares his men to go to war," the narrator says over military-style graphics. “That night, South Beach, Miami: Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand. Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer.”

Murphy, then 19, was arrested outside a bar in South Beach in 2003 on charges of disorderly intoxication and possessing a fake driver license. The case was ultimately dismissed. The candidate later called it “the biggest mistake of my life.”

In response, Murphy campaign adviser Eric Johnson told Roll Call that West should be wary about bringing up the past. “In 2003, [West] was criminally charged by the military with assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and was subsequently kicked out of the military," Johnson said. "And he’s attacking Patrick Murphy for drinking as a teenager, which I think is a silly attack.”

The military decided against court-martialing West; he was fined for using improper interrogation tactics and retired soon after.

House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, just increased its ad buy in this district from $1 million to $1.5 million. Their new ad, "A Lot," focuses on West's tendency to make incendiary statements as well as past IRS liens against the congressman. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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