A GOP Leader Rebukes Steve King: ‘We Must Stand Up Against White Supremacy’

(Bloomberg) -- Republican Steve King of Iowa was denounced Tuesday by the leader of his own party’s House campaign committee over his incendiary comments about race and association with white nationalism, an unusual rebuke of an incumbent congressman running for re-election.

The criticism from Representative Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, came a week before the Nov. 6 election and was prompted by a massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue that brought new attention to King’s remarks. Dairy giant Land O’Lakes and semiconductor maker Intel Corp. said they would stop donating to King.

“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” Stivers of Ohio said on Twitter. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

King, 69, has a history of associating with members of far-right, nationalist movements both at home and abroad. He also has been at the forefront of a right-wing push to end birthright citizenship, a goal President Donald Trump said in an interview with "Axios on HBO" he would seek to carry out by executive order, despite protections under the U.S. Constitution.

Before Stivers’s comments, the non-partisan Cook Political Report downgraded King’s race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” King’s Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, a former paralegal and professional baseball player from Sioux City, has raised $1.7 million to King’s $741,000 for this election cycle.

‘Created Equal’

King said Tuesday on Twitter that “Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins-legal immigrants & natural born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill. These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news.”

King also tweeted an internal poll from his campaign that showed him ahead in the 4th district in northwestern Iowa, which Trump won by 27 points in 2016.

The murder of 11 people, many elderly, in the Pittsburgh mass shooting this weekend resulted in the arrest of a man who allegedly made anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rants online.

Stivers’s decision to distance himself from King was the result of an accumulation of past actions, rather than one specific example, according to a GOP aide who is close to the congressman.

King, who has previously made derogatory remarks about immigrants, has also expressed admiration for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and tweeted support for his attacks on George Soros, a billionaire supporter of the Democratic Party who last week was one of a dozen recipients of mail bombs allegedly sent by a Trump supporter.

White Supremacists

The Iowa Republican also recently tweeted his endorsement of Faith Goldy to be the next mayor of Toronto. Goldy has been tied to white supremacists and was interviewed by the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. In 2017 she attended the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a counterprotester was run down and killed.

King recently denied he’s anti-Semitic, according to the Washington Post. King didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Land O’Lakes Inc. said in a statement that its political action committee “has traditionally contributed to lawmakers of both parties that represent the communities where our members and employees live and work and are also on committees that oversee policies that directly impact our farmer owners.”

The company added: “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. On that basis, we have determined that our PAC will no longer support Rep. King moving forward.”

Arden Hills, Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes, known for its dairy business, is also a 97-year-old cooperative with operations that span the so-called farm-to-fork spectrum. It owns Purina, for example, an animal nutrition company, and WinField United, which sells seeds and crop chemicals. It ranks 216th on the Fortune 500 and had sales of $14 billion in 2017.

Newsletter Author

Judd Legum, author of an online newsletter called Popular Information, highlighted corporate contributions to King in an Oct. 18 post. Legum’s tweet on Monday asking why Land O’Lakes had given $2,500 to King was retweeted 11,000 times and liked 23,000 times.

Intel will also end its campaign contributions to King, according to Legum’s newsletter, citing an internal company email. William Moss, a spokesman for the company, confirmed that the report is accurate and declined to comment further.

Iowa is a center for American agriculture, ranking first in corn and egg production and the state raises a third of the nation’s hogs. Other agricultural contributors to King said they haven’t decided whether to stop financial support.

The National Pork Producers Council gave $1,000 through King’s leadership PAC in the 2018 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its support was specific to the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, said spokesman Jim Monroe, while emphasizing that the group donates to both Republicans and Democrats.

“Obviously, these are very serious allegations,” he said, regarding King’s associations with white nationalism. “We are always evaluating our PAC contributions and will continue to do so.”

The United Egg Producers said its work with King was narrowly focused on his role representing Iowa and as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, according to spokeswoman Hinda Mitchell. The group, which according to the Center for Responsive Politics made a $2,500 contribution to King’s leadership PAC for 2018, declined further comment.

Tyson Foods Inc. and the International Dairy Foods Association didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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