Boca family appears in anti-West ad over congressman’s stance on stem cell research

October 18, 2012

A Boca Raton mother and her 12-year-old son will be featured in a TV spot sponsored by a Democratic super-PAC taking aim at U.S. Rep. Allen West for opposing the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research.

In the ad, Judy Susser alleges that West “turned his back” on her son, Adam, who is blind, a quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. West’s campaign flatly denies the claim.

Susser said that her family approached West during a 2011 charity event to ask him whether he would support embryonic stem cell research, but he walked away “without saying a word.”

“If Allen West can turn his back on Adam, what will he do to you?” Susser says in the 33-second ad, which the House Majority PAC plans to begin airing on Saturday.

West’s campaign manager, Tim Edson, said Thursday that allegations “simply aren’t true.” Edson said that West “corresponded” with the Susser family and invited them to attend two town hall meetings. “Congressman West has great compassion for the Susser family, for their son and the disabilities he faces,” Edson said in a statement.

Edson called Susser and her husband, Gary, “Democrat activists.”

Federal campaign records show the couple has contributed more than $26,000 to Democratic candidates, including former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, who West defeated in 2010.

West will face off against Democrat Patrick Murphy in the Nov. 6 election. The West-Murphy race for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 is one of the costliest in the nation, with West spending $12.1 million through Sept. 30 and Murphy spending $2.9 million.

The House Majority PAC said the advertisement featuring the Susser family was part of a $1.5 million campaign it has launched to support Murphy. “It is truly despicable that Patrick Murphy and his allies at House Majority PAC would exploit a disabled child for their own political gain,” Edson said in the statement.

The Sussers have spent years pushing for government-sponsored embryonic stem cell research, arguing it is the only hope they have for treating their son.

“I felt it was very necessary to tell this story,” Judy Susser said Thursday. “I am usually a private person. I am a mother. I am not a politician.”

Judy Susser said stem cells could help her son walk and talk. “It is about my son, and the embryonic stem cell research,” she said.