Florida Tea Party Favorite Spoke To, Defended Criminal Biker Gang (VIDEO)

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Allen West, a national tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for Congress in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, has (to put it mildly) some controversial friends. According to a new report from NBC News, West has been a fan and defender of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a national group targeted by the FBI for involvement in racketeering, “violent crimes” and “attempted murder.”

As NBC reported tonight, West has had personal dealings with the Florida chapter of the Outlaws, which lists on its website “Brothers In Prison,” which NBC correspondent Lisa Meyers says includes “many” who “were convicted of violent crimes, including murder.”

Meyers reports on email correspondence between West and a supporter nervous about his interactions with the group that appears to show West defending the group against a characterization that it’s “criminal.”But as the FBI noted in a June press release announcing a federal indictment of American Outlaw leadership, the national group is suspected of being a “a highly organized criminal enterprise with a defined, multi-level chain of command.” From the release:

According to the indictment, the Outlaws planned multiple acts of violence against rival motorcycle gangs, including shows of force at the Cycle Expo in 2006, Dinwiddie Racetrack in 2008, Cockades Bar in 2009, Daytona Bike Week in 2009, and the Easyrider Bike Expo in 2010. The indictment alleges that in the Cockades Bar show of force, members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club joined the Outlaws in the assault against rival gangs.

In August, the FBI conducted a joint raid of Outlaw-affiliated motorcycle gangs across the country. According to this report from the Florida raid, agents stormed a compound in Jacksonville, FL and “wouldn’t say what it seized inside the 1.5 acre compound of buildings and sheds.” A similar raid in Detroit “snagged eleven Outlaws members who’ve been indicted for a range of crimes involving extortion, drugs, and guns.”

West’s dealing with the Florida branch of the group, according to Meyers, includes inviting them to a “campaign bike ride,” using them to “guard” him “in an interview,” and speaking before a “Constitutional rights rally” organized by “groups who bragged they were affiliated with the Outlaws.”

Watch Meyers’ report:

West, as our Eric Kleefeld reported in August, is a “retired Army colonel, who was forced into his retirement” after a 2003 incident in which media reports say he “‘conducted a harsh interrogation’ on an Iraqi police officer, in which West fired his gun near the man’s head.”

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