(WASHINGTON) — While Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said members of the Congressional Black Caucus have lunched on fried chicken in the past, when the group’s only Republican member, Rep. Allen West of Florida, brought Chick-fil-A for his turn to provide lunch, Hastings told the Huffington Post “every member” of the group was offended.
West provided the now-controversial chicken sandwiches about six months ago, but Hastings’ recollection of the delivery carries fresh potency in light of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s open support for a “biblical definition” of marriage.
Gay rights activists were incensed by Cathy’s statements and staged a boycott of the chicken chain. Although the caucus’ Chick-fil-A delivery took place before the recent hullabaloo, Hastings said, he saw it as an “in your face” way for West to make a statement in support of the company’s conservative views, which the primarily Democratic group does not share.
“He did it deliberately,” Hastings told the Huffington Post Monday. “Every member of the Congressional Black Caucus that was there was offended.”
West spokeswoman Angela Melvin said his choice of Chick-fil-A “had nothing to do” with the company’s values or stance on marriage.
“He loves Chick-fil-A,” Melvin told ABC News. “Catered the event on something that was affordable and what average Americans eat. The fact that Mr. Hastings would turn this into anything else is laughable and desperate.”
Melvin said West spent about $600 on the Chick-fil-A meal and that there was “not a plate left” by the end of the meeting, suggesting that not “every member” could have been offended as Hastings suggested.
West expressed his support for Chick-fil-A during an interview in Chicago last week, telling CNBC that he wanted to open his own franchise.
“I had to come up from down South because I wanted to try to open up a Chick-fil-A franchise here in Chicago,” West said in an interview with CNBC’s Rick Santelli.
Melvin said the congressman was “being sarcastic” and does not intend to open a Chick-fil-A. West’s remarks came one week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values. …And if you’re going to be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”
When Santelli asked West whether it struck him as “a bit unusual” that the mayor would threaten to block a business based on the beliefs of its owner, West said he wasn’t surprised by how “the other side” reacted.
“It doesn’t when you understand the other side, the liberal side, because free speech is only free if you agree with what they say and what they believe,” West said.
Neither Hastings nor the Congressional Black Caucus returned ABC News’ request for comment.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Dan Berman, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com