Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa is again refusing to debate his Democratic opponent.
Democrat J. D. Scholten who’s running for Congress in Iowa’s 4th District says incumbent Republican Steve King is abdicating his leadership by declining his invitation for three campaign debates.
For his eight terms in Congress, King has largely avoided appearing on stage with his opponents. In his first race in 2002, he appeared on Iowa Public Television with his Democratic challenger Paul Shomshor. But he did not debate his opponents in subsequent elections until his race with Democrat Christie Vilsack in 2012 and again with Democrat Jim Mowrer in 2014. He declined an invitation to debate Democrat Kim Weaver in 2016.
Steve King doesn’t seem to be too concerned with arguing his political stances before the people of Iowa. Maybe because he is more enamored with the people of Austria, specifically the Nazis of Austria.
As ThinkProgress noted this week, the timestamp on King’s tweet indicated that he posted it from Vienna, Austria, home to the far-right, nationalist Freedom Party whose members he’s met with in the country and also in Washington DC during President Trump’s inauguration. The party was founded by former Nazis, including a former member of Hitler’s SS, in the 1950s, and has long been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism.
King did not respond to requests for comment to confirm if he was, indeed, in Austria at the time he posted the tweet. But, as ThinkProgress noted: “According to Congressional Records, King made four congressional trips to Austria between December 2013 and early 2017 — more than any other country during that period. His last documented congressional trip was for two days in late February 2017. Prior to that, he visited the country in October 2016, December 2014, and December 2013. The number of private excursions King has made to the country is unknown.”
A far-right Austrian political party whose leaders visited Washington last year to witness the Trump inauguration with Steve King caused a stir this week after proposing a law that would require Jews and Muslims to register with the government in order to purchase kosher and halal meats, respectively.
The proposal came from the Freedom Party of Austria, or FPÖ, which was founded in 1956 by former Nazis, including a member of Adolf Hitler’s SS, and in last October’s legislative election made major gains amid the wave of anti-migrant nationalism sweeping Europe.
It wasn’t King’s first encounter with FPÖ leaders. In October 2016, he traveled to Vienna to endorse Hofer’s candidacy, praising his anti-immigration platform. An Associated Press article titled “Austrian presidential hopeful meets US Trump backer,” translating a report from the Austria Press Agency, noted that King said “after meeting Norbert Hofer that Western civilization has to be defended and that Hofer speaks moderately but very clearly on this issue.”
Iowa Congressman Steve King, too, recently met with Strache, according to the Vienna newspaper Die Presse, which reported that during a trip to the US from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6 Strache met with Staten Island council member Joseph Borelli, a co-chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign; North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger; and King. (In an interview with the Village Voice, Borelli denied meeting Strache. The Informer has reached out to King’s office about the report; this post will be updated if we hear back.)
King has also met with recent Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, whose narrow defeat in Austria’s Dec. 5 election was seen as a welcome relief from the tide of far-right nationalism sweeping Europe and, with Trump’s election, the US, driven by anti-immigrant sentiment exacerbated by the Syrian civil war’s refugee crisis and the specter of terrorism. After Hofer’s loss, King tweeted a sympathetic message referring to their “friendship”.
In 2011, Hofer helped rewrite the party’s manifesto, bringing back the sort of rhetoric from which Haider had shied away, including a “commitment to a German people and cultural community” and the term Volksgemeinschaft, which was used by Adolf Hitler as a propaganda device to describe the racially unified nationalism the genocidal leader sought to impose on Austria and across Europe.
The Freedom Party was founded in 1956 by former Nazis. Its first leader was Anton Reinthaller, a former officer in the SS, Hitler’s paramilitary force that operated Auschwitz and other extermination camps during World War II. The party is sometimes referred to as a neo-Nazi party and was described by the New Statesman in 2013 as an “infamous far-right party,” under Strache, “preaching aggressively populist nationalism and reactionary rhetoric which often encompasses racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.”
In addition to refusing debates, Steve King also holds the dubious distinction of being the least effective member of Congress.
#1. Rep. Steve KingEffectiveness Score: 0%
Total Sponsored Bills: 94
Bills Passed Committee: 0
Serving Since: 2003