MIAMI — A conservative radio-talk-show host tapped to be chief of staff for an incoming Florida congressman stepped down yesterday from her new job, a day after 300 schools were locked down when a threat was linked to her show.
Joyce Kaufman announced on her live show that she would not be US Representative-elect Allen West’s aide because she wanted to avoid any repercussions against him for her statements. Kaufman is known for making controversial pronouncements on her show and told a recent Tea Party movement rally that if “ballots don’t work, bullets will.’’
“Sometimes I have a big mouth,’’ she said on yesterday’s show. “Sometimes I say things that I wish I had either said differently or not said at all. I think that’s part of my charm. It also gets people in a lot of trouble.’’
It’s not clear whether anything Kaufman has said prompted the threat. All authorities have said was that schools were locked down after an e-mail was sent to her at WFTL-AM on Wednesday, claiming “something big was going to happen,’’ possibly at a post office or a school.
The e-mail contained the ranting of a very extreme out-of-control person, mentioned gun rights, and contained hate messages against ethnic and religious groups, police and school officials said. Dozens of officers were sent to protect the schools, but nothing happened.
Kaufman, 56, has been on South Florida radio for nearly 20 years. She “considers herself fiercely independent and is not ashamed of putting America first, like real liberals used to and our weak-kneed politicians and some so-called conservatives claim to,’’ according to the radio station’s biography. She also carries a .357 magnum handgun.
West’s selection of Kaufman to lead his staff was a surprise — she’s never worked in government. But she was an early backer of West, a Republican, and was often his warm-up speaker at rallies.