Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida set off a political firestorm last week after he sent out a picture with a burning cross that compared Tea Party members to the Ku Klux Klan.
The email has a photo depicting a burning cross with Ku Klux Klan members in white robes in the background. The words "Tea Party" appear on the image, with the burning cross serving as the letter "T."
This week, Channel 9 uncovered how much the controversial email has been helping the Republicans who are battling over his seat in the Ninth District, which covers Polk, Orange and Osceola counties.
Grayson's competitors said they’ve raised thousands of dollars and gains lots of support without even having to do anything.
"To use that to champion racial justice or to fight for equality, but to fund-raise, I thought, was most despicable," Grayson's Republican rival Jorge Bonilla told Channel 9.
Candidate Carol Platt echoed the sentiment.
"They expect more from an elected official," said Platt.
Republican candidate Peter Vivaldi said Grayson "has continually showed his lack of skill to bring people together."
Grayson said in a statement released Wednesday that Tea Party members have a record of making racist remarks.
Grayson said, "If the hood fits, wear it."
Political expert Rick Foglesong said the KKK photo may be an unfair comparison, but the Republicans need the self-proclaimed "congressman with guts" as much as he needs them.
"They need him to raise money to show a clear and present danger to them and to America as they see it," said Foglesong.
Grayson's campaign would not say how much it raised since it sent out the KKK picture.
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