Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King visited Poland to participate in Holocaust memorial activities and then traveled to Austria, where he gave an interview with a publication tied to the country’s far-right Freedom Party, which was founded by a Nazi SS officer and is currently run by a man who was previously affiliated with neo-Nazis. In the interview, King made numerous statements in line with white nationalist ideas, and he mused about an “antidote” to Jewish philanthropist George Soros, a Holocaust survivor.
After dozens of media reports about King’s European itinerary and his statements from the interview, some corporate PACs that had previously donated to King began withdrawing their support. Others did the opposite and chipped in more money to his campaign as the reports of the interview were swirling.
A new Federal Election Commission report reveals recent donations, which include $1,500 from the National Beer Wholesalers PAC; $1,000 from the Black Hills Corporation PAC; $7,000 from PACs associated with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas); and $1,000 from Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) PAC. These contributions came on Oct. 29.
The National Beer Wholesalers PAC had already donated $2,000 to King’s campaign, bringing its total to $3,500 for this election cycle. The campaign committee of Brady, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, gave $2,000, while his leadership PAC, Making America Prosperous PAC, gave $5,000.
The National Beer Wholesalers PAC, the Black Hills Corporation PAC, and the offices of Brady and Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After reporting by Sludge, Popular Information, and other outlets on King, some PACs are beginning to rescind their support for the Iowa congressman. Yesterday, Intel announced that it would no longer donate to King. “We looked into the congressman’s public statements and determined that they conflict with Intel values,” wrote Intel’s director of policy and external partnerships in an internal Oct. 25 email. “As a result, we are no longer donating to his campaigns.”
Land O’Lakes, facing a possible boycott of its products, did the same today. “We take our civic responsibility seriously, want our contributions to be a positive force for good and also seek to ensure that recipients of our contributions uphold our company’s values,” said the company in a statement. “On that basis, we have determined that our PAC will no longer support Rep. Steve King moving forward.”
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King sits on the House Agriculture Committee, and many of his campaign donations come from farming and food industry interests. He’s also on the House Judiciary Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution & Civil Justice and is a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
At 1:44pm today National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) condemned King for the first time:
House Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned Nazis and said he disagrees with King’s statement that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” But Ryan hasn’t removed King from House committees, nor called for King to change his behavior or rhetoric. The House GOP caucus contains other far-right extremists including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) who traveled to London in July to speak at an anti-Muslim rally.
A Tightening Race
It appears that King’s race in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is tightening. Today, Change Research released the results of an online poll that found Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten within one point of King, and the Cook Political Report moved the race from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.”
Scholten has more cash on hand than King, whose fundraising has been slow and who hasn’t faced a strong challenger since 2012. Outside spending in the race is relatively low, but all of it is benefiting Scholten. One group, Save the American Way, spent roughly $4,300 benefiting King in 2016 but didn’t report it until last year; the committee is mainly funded by two executives of an Ohio-based gas compression equipment company, Ariel Corporation.
Independent groups have spent a total of $317,000 on the district’s general election, according to data compiled by ProPublica. The biggest spender is American Values PAC, which has spent close to $212,000 on television, radio and digital ads against King.