Rep. Steve King of Iowa only has a few weeks left in Congress. But his racially tinged tweets on the way out are a reminder of why even his fellow House Republicans wanted him gone.
King lost his 2020 renomination bid to Republican rival Randy Feenstra, who is set on Jan. 3 to start representing the 4th District in the conservative northwest sector of Iowa. King, over the weekend, took sharp jabs at GOP and Democratic lawmakers and congressional leaders.
In a Nov. 22 tweet, King criticized Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for her COVID-19 regulations on the state.
“@KimReynoldsIA @IAGovernor Your web site is asking & advising Iowans to squeal on restaurant & bar owners for non compliance with your new COVID orders. You are pitting Iowans against Iowans and turning Iowa into a Surveillance State,” King said.
King also went after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the incoming director of President-elect Joe Biden’s White House Office of Public Engagement, Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, citing stories circulating since the primary that reported a claim that Harris’s father is a descendant of a Jamaican slave owner.
King tweeted, “I’m reading that @KamalaHarris made history as first woman, first black woman, first Asian woman, etc = a boatload of intersectionality points. But Kamala, are you descended from slaves or slave owners?”
He added, “Why are you @KamalaHarris supporters throwing the dishes at me for asking an important question? Meet @CedricRichmond original sponsor of HR 40, the Slavery Reparations bill. Cedric, you will have a hard time pushing slavery reparations unless Kamala is willing to write a check.”
It’s those types of remarks that have previously made King the target of criticism. King found himself in trouble with his party back in January 2019 when he pondered why it was so divisive to discuss issues related to white nationalism and white supremacy.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King eventually lost his committee assignments, including his seat on the House agriculture panel, a key post for the lawmaker who has represented the rural district since 2003. King also lost his congressional seat in the primary this cycle as a result of weak fundraising and lack of local political support.
King, 71, defended himself in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
“None of my opponents have criticized a single vote that I put up in 18 years in this Congress,” King said. “I don’t have a single personal accuser of anything. It’s all left-wing press.”
The Iowa Republican recently also went after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who pushed to remove King from his committees and condemned him for his remarks to the New York Times.
“.@KevinMcCarthy @GOPLeader This title is really rich. Have you no shame? You quote the New York Times, explicitly lie to me and the press, and have the audacity to call out Democrats for lying?” King stated in a tweet on Nov. 20.
King responded to detractors and made declarations in previous and subsequent tweets. On Nov. 7, he tweeted about section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which some members of Congress are debating changing and the result could affect whether Big Tech companies should retain certain liability protections.
“Amend Section 230 to eliminate statutory protection for their lies—while they simultaneously censor alleged lies from the right. Then reverse New York Times v. Sullivan. Civil courts will fix the rest. A few of their victims will get rich & all get our freedom of speech restored.”
New York Times v. Sullivan is a landmark 1964 Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled in favor of the New York Times that in order to prove libel, a “public official” must prove that the newspaper acted with “actual malice.”