Controversial Democrat Alan Grayson has set off a flurry of criticism from conservatives after the Florida congressman sent out a fundraising email to supporters in which he compared the tea party to the Ku Klux Klan.
Grayson’s original comments came during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.” Grayson was discussing the tea party’s influence on the Republican Party when he said, “At this point, the tea party is no more popular than the Klan.”
And rather than shy away from that comment, Grayson included them in bold letters on his website with the quote taking readers directly to a fundraising page for Grayson’s re-election campaign.
Grayson’s fundraising page includes the image of a burning cross; it uses the cross as the letter “T” and spells out “tea party” in flaming letters:
"As a black Tea Party activist, I could say that there's nothing more offensive than equating the Tea Party with the Ku Klux Klan,” Jennifer Burke, National Outreach Director for TheTeaParty.net said in a statement emailed to Yahoo News. “The hate speech uttered by sitting congressman Alan Grayson is deplorable, even by the low levels reached in recent years when Democrats routinely call us racists and suicide bombers."
Grayson’s comments were also criticized by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
There’s no excuse for the hateful words and imagery used by Congressman Grayson,” NRCC spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement. “House Democrats should swiftly and strongly condemn him and return the money he has raised for them. This hate-filled rhetoric has Americans fed up with Washington.”
Grayson is no stranger to controversy. First elected to Congress in 2008, he regularly was an outspoken critic of Republicans and conservatives in general. He was voted out of office after his first term, and many observers expected him to take a role as an activist outside of government. However, Grayson was re-elected in 2012 and is considered a strong favorite for re-election in 2014.
Despite the criticism over his KKK comparison, Grayson has stood by his comments and subsequent fundraising effort. He pointed to offensive comments and signage that appeared at past tea party rallies to justify his own comments.
“Tea Party members have circulated countless altered pictures depicting President Obama and the First Lady as monkeys. Tea Party members also called my fellow Member of Congress, civil rights hero John Lewis, a ‘n***ger,’ and Rep. Barney Frank a ‘faggot,’” Grayson said in a statement. “One could go on and on, because there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the shoe fits, wear it.”