Klein backer with biker ties calls West-Outlaws criticism ‘unfair…dirty politics’by George Bennett | October 19th, 2010
Former Democratic state Rep. and former Pompano Beach mayor John Rayson is backing Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein’s reelection bid. But Rayson, an attorney who used to represent a group of South Florida motorcycle clubs, says it’s “unfair…dirty politics” for Democrats to criticize Republican challenger Allen West for his brushes with the Outlaws biker club.
West said he’s not associated with the Outlaws, but was once shielded by some of them when he had to do a cellphone interview in a crowded club. He also told a supporter in an e-mail to make “no more references to ‘criminal’ “ in describing the Outlaws.
The national Outlaws organization was called a “highly organized criminal enterprise” in a June federal indictment of 27 Outlaws leaders. The Florida Outlaws website includes a page honoring “Brothers in Prison.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday said West was tied to a “criminal organization” because he defended the Outlaws in the e-mail and spoke at an August gathering that included clubs associated with the Outlaws. On Monday, the Florida Democratic Party said a West supporter was wearing a South Florida Confederation of Clubs patch, and that confederation “has ties to the Outlaws organized crime syndicate.”
Rayson used to represent the Confederation of Clubs, which he said includes the Outlaws as well as Christian riders, veterans organizations and other biker clubs.
Some Outlaws might be involved in crime, Rayson said, but “I haven’t seen criminal activity. I think a lot of them are like painting contractors and electricians and plumbers and have families. I think things have changed…It’s not like the TV show Sons of Anarchy or anything.”
Asked about the West-Outlaws criticism, Rayson said: “I think it’s unfair. I’m not a West fan but I think that’s dirty politics.”