Florida Democrats expose Republican candidate to identity theft

Rachel Rose Hartman
Allen West in Tel Aviv in December.
Allen West in Tel Aviv in December.

It's more or less taken for granted that politics can destroy your soul. But who knew that it could also expose you to identity theft?

That's the charge that Florida GOP House candidate Allen West is levying against the Florida Democratic Party. In a Democratic mailer targeting West, the party featured the candidate's actual Social Security number.

West explained his reaction to the incident in a letter to supporters:

"How would you feel if you arrived home after work only to hear your two teenage daughters describe the mailing your family received, publicly disclosing your Social Security number?  And imagine your disgust when you discover the same mailing had just been sent to thousands of homes across Broward and Palm Beach Counties? Well, that just happened to me on Friday evening."

West is already using the incident to his advantage. You can watch his latest campaign commercial below:

West claims that his Democratic opponent, Rep. Ron Klein, is responsible for the leaked personal information. But the mailer in question was distributed by the state party, not by Klein's campaign. The party has since apologized for what they're calling an "oversight," according to the Palm Beach Post, and Democratic officials have offered to pay for two years of identity-theft monitoring for West.

West, a retired Army colonel, waged an unsuccessful campaign against Klein in 2008 but has received a boost from the tea party movement this year. West earned a national profile for the controversy that ended his military career. He was forced to resign from the Army in 2004 after firing a pistol near a detainee's head during an interrogation. He pleaded guilty to assault for the act, but conservative supporters have embraced him as a hero in the war against terrorism.

Klein represents a competitive district, which means that outside funding sources such as both major-party state organizations have taken an active hand in the race.

(Photo of Allen West: Getty Images/David Silverman)