PolitiFact: Allen West Aide Said "If Ballots Don't Work, Bullets Will"

Joyce Kaufman and Allen West
"And if ballots don't work, bullets will," Kaufman said at a July rally.
TAMPA (2011-1-18) -

Did a South Florida talk-show host and former aide to Rep. Allen West (R-Fl.) say that, “if ballots don't work, bullets will” at a rally in July?

It’s a question that emerged in the wake of the Tuscon shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the debate over civility in politics.

A friend of Giffords, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, brought up the issue in response to what a Congressman said on “Meet the Press.”

"I mean, the phrase that you just used, 'we use ballots, not bullets,' the actual reverse of that phrase was used in my district by someone who was almost the chief of staff to an incoming member of Congress where she said at a rally, at a Tea Party rally, 'We will use bullets if ballots don't work.' "

Wasserman Schultz is talking about Joyce Kaufman, a radio talk-show host who was briefly West’s chief of staff.

Kaufman’s address to a Broward County political rally on July 3 is posted to YouTube. She spoke about the genius of the founding fathers.

"They gave us ballots,” she says. “That is the first line of defense ... We send home all of these incumbents who have done nothing to represent the people. They don't come to their districts. They don't talk to us.

"And then the Founding Fathers were ever so brilliant -- and I don't care how this gets painted by the mainstream media, I don't care if this shows up on YouTube -- because I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights is they gave me a Second Amendment," Kaufman said, referring to the constitutional amendment that speaks of gun rights.

"And if ballots don't work, bullets will," Kaufman said, as the crowd clapped and someone says "Amen."

"I never in my life thought that the day would come where I would tell individual citizens that you are responsible for being the militia that the Founding Fathers designed," she said. "They were very specific. You need to be prepared to fight tyranny, whether it comes from outside, or whether it comes from inside."

Later, Kaufman said she was using this as a metaphor, and not as a literal call to arms. She also reminded us that President Obama has used violent imagery in his speech as well, borrowing a line from The Untouchables that "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

So Wasserman Schultz is correct when she quotes Kaufman.

A postscript – Kaufman resigned as West’s chief of staff days after being appointed after receiving this threat: "I'm planning something big around the government building here in Broward County, maybe a post office, maybe even a school. ..."

The threat led to a lockdown of Broward schools Nov. 10 and an FBI investigation.

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