He's out of office, but former Congressman Allen West is still attracting controversy.

This time it's over a speech he's scheduled to give Saturday night to one of the Broward School Board's advisory committees. A civic activist who's tangled before with West is outraged, arguing it's the wrong venue for the defeated one-term congressman, best known for his incendiary attacks on President Barack Obama and other Democrats.

"This is somebody who has no problem maligning and marginalizing and showing intolerance toward others," said activist Michael Rajner. "I just don't see Allen West being the kind of person and the character to be invited in. It's just outright offensive."

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  • Poll: Should Allen West's planned speech to a Broward School District group take place?

    Should Allen West appear before the Broward School Board¿s Advisory Council for gifted education?

    • No. Even though he¿s an entertaining speaker, partisan political rhetoric has no place in the schools.
    • Yes. In a pluralistic society, people should be exposed to all views, whether they come from Allen West or his liberal nemesis, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
    • No. It's an outrage that anything connected with the School Board would do anything to further his views.
    • Yes. Anything connected with the School District could use a breath of Allen West-style fresh air.
  • You decide: Allen West's most unusual comment

    U.S. Rep. Allen West, the Republican with strong tea party support, is known for his strong rhetoric. Here are some of his most notable comments.

    What is Allen West's most noteworthyl comment?

    • "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party," -- Responding to a question at a Jensen Beach town hall meeting, April 2012.
    • "If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine," -- Comparing what he sees as Democrats' influence over the news media to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, December 2011.
    • "I need a bucket," -- Telling a radio interviewer what he thinks of when someone mentions the name of his colleague, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, September 2011.
    • "I am not sitting up here and condemning people who call themselves Muslims. Now is the time we have to challenge this ideology. If we are to peacefully coexist they have to come into the 21st Century and push aside a lot of these 7th Century ideas they still hold, -- Describing his views on Islam, September 2011.
    • "I like chocolate chip ice cream and I will continue to like chocolate chip ice cream. So there's no worry about me changing to vanilla. I like to, you know, ride my motorcycle. What do you want me to do? You want me to change my behavior and ride a scooter? I'm not into that," -- Explaining that gay people can change their behavior, but they shouldn't have to, August 2011.
    • "You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.... You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!" -- Email to Wasserman Schultz, July 2011.
    • A "cretin" and "pathetic liberal" who should be "scared to come out of his house," and a "mama's boy" because his party's leader in the House was Nancy Pelosi. -- Description of his 2008 and 2010 opponent, then-U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, 2010 campaign.
    • "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool," -- Weekly email update to constituents, July 2011.
    • "I'm here as the modern day Harriet Tubman" who can help rescue blacks from the Democratic Party by leading them "on the underground railroad away from that plantation," Describing himself, August 2011.
  • <b>Photos:</b> Allen West in pictures Photos: Allen West in pictures
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On Wednesday, Rajner plans to appear before the School Board to ask its members to encourage the group that invited West to reconsider and cancel the appearance. Rajner views it as "clearly an attempt to help relaunch Allen West after he was defeated and kicked out of Congress."

Heidi Jameson, chairwoman of the School District's Gifted Advisory Council, told the School Board on Feb. 5 that her group was hosting West, who was one of two black Republicans in the U.S. House in 2011 and 2012, because it's Black History Month. The council is a group of parents focused on improving education for children who are identified as gifted or talented.

Video of her remarks shows her telling the board it would be a "non-political presentation." But the page on the Gifted Advisory Council website that advertises the event states that "throughout his time in Congress, West consistently stood for policies that would make the United States prosperous, strong and free, even when speaking up was not easy."

The website said West would talk about his "life story and conservative values."

During his two years in Congress, West was hailed by conservatives, especially in the tea party movement, and scorned by liberals — usually after he made statements that the right liked and the left hated. Among them: Saying he had "heard" there were 76 to 81 communists among his Democratic colleagues in Congress and suggesting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels would be envious of the Democrats' "incredible propaganda machine."

Some of his sharpest vitriol was directed at U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, whom he called "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable" member of the House, labeled a "coward," said should "shut the heck up," and said she had "proven repeatedly that you are not a lady."

School Board member Katie Leach said she isn't sure if the council's speaker is within the board's purview to review. "They're all adults. If they have requested that he come to speak to one of their meetings to inform them on something, I certainly don't think we should preclude them from doing that if they feel he has something to add to the conversation about how we educate students who are gifted."

Vice President Joe Biden gave the commencement address to Cypress Bay High School last year when he was running for re-election. He was accompanied by Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, whose district includes Cypress Bay.

Leach said outside speakers don’t mean the School Board approves or disapproves what they’re saying. “Free speech is something that we have available to all of us,” she said. “You’re never going to be as educated as you can be if you don’t hear all sides.”

Rajner said West’s comments make him unfit for a School District platform. “I just find it reprehensible … with all the work the School District has done on bullying. Allen West is the one of the biggest bullies ever,” he said.

Rajner, who has served on several School Board advisory committees, is active in the Democratic Party and in the gay community. When West was invited in 2011 to speak before the Wilton Manors Business Association, Rajner spearheaded a protest that led to the event's cancellation.

West was elected to a Broward-Palm Beach County district in 2010. Facing a tough re-election battle, he moved last year from Plantation to Palm Beach Gardens and sought a second term in a northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie county district. He narrowly lost.

The West appearance is a bit of a political hot potato, and aside from Leach few people were willing to discuss it. Among those who were unavailable or declining to comment: School Board Chairwoman Laurie Rich Levinson, Vice Chairwoman Patricia Good, Superintendent Robert Runcie, the gifted council's Jameson, and West.

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

aman@tribune.com or 954-356-4550

Get a refresher about some of West's most notable comments and take our poll on whether Saturday's speech should go ahead at Sun Sentinel.com/BrowardPolitics.

If you go

What: Appearance by former U.S. Rep. Allen West.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lauderdale Lakes Middle School, 3911 NW 30th Ave., Lauderdale Lakes

Admission: Open to the public