Mug shots and old tax liens: House campaign ad war escalates in South Florida

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

Florida Republican Rep. Allen West's campaign unveiled an ad on Friday criticizing Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy and displaying a mug shot taken when he was 19 years old after an arrest outside a Miami bar, a part of Murphy's past the candidate has called "the biggest mistake of my life."

The ad contrasts West's time as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army preparing to be deployed to Iraq with Murphy, who was partying in Miami at the time. The commercial, which ends by splashing up a photo of Murphy the night of the arrest for disorderly conduct, is intended as a comparison of the two candidates. The ad will run in media markets in Palm Beach County over the next week.

Murphy's campaign responded to the ad Friday, calling it shameless.

"Allen West is shamelessly attacking Patrick Murphy for underage drinking as a teenager, which he has discussed in the press and called a mistake he learned from," senior adviser Eric Johnson told Yahoo News.

Johnson said that it was during a 2003 deployment to Iraq that West was discharged and fined $5,000 for threatening an Iraqi policeman detainee (firing his pistol twice in order to scare him) to gain knowledge of a planned attack.

"What's really amazing is that he [West] contrasts that to 2003, when he was in the military, which happens to be the year where he was criminally charged by the military for assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which shortly thereafter caused him to be forced to resign," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a Democratic super PAC released an ad the same day hitting West for reports of past IRS tax liens. The ad, part of a $1.5 million ad buy in the district, also points to statements from West that House Majority PAC executive director Alixandria Lapp deemed "offensive."