By Nikoel Hytrek
A group dedicated to getting corporate money out of politics has highlighted Congressman Steve King as a top priority for defeating in 2020.
End Citizens United announced King’s addition to the organization’s “Big Money 20” list today, marking him as an important incumbent to defeat in next year’s election.
“Rep. Steve King’s racist and demeaning behavior is fueled not by Iowan voters but by the support of corporate special interests who just want to buy a vote in Congress,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, in a press release.
Prior to this announcement, the group endorsed King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten. In 2018, King defeated Scholten by only three points with 50.3% of the vote over Sholten’s 47%.
“From siding with Wall Street to using campaign cash to live a luxurious lifestyle in Washington and abroad, Steve King’s corruption runs deep,” Muller said in the press release.
The Big Money 20 list targets incumbents who take money from corporate special interests and industries like pharmaceuticals and oil.
Of the 20 incumbents on the Big Money 20 list in 2018, 16 retired or lost reelection. To beat the incumbents in 2020, End Citizens United will leverage its list of more than 550,000 donors toward the candidates running against them.
The amount of money King raises every two years has decreased over the course of his career, but it took probably its hardest hit from the 2014 to 2016 election, where he went from raising more than $2 million to raising $944,000.
It’s decreased further since then. As of June 30 this year, King has raised only $153,202. His campaign bank account was nearly completely empty at the end of the last quarter.
According to Open Secrets, retirees are King’s biggest donor bloc.
Behind that, agribusiness and conservative groups concerned with a single issue are King’s top contributors, and have been throughout his career.
In 2019, 100% of the money he has received from Political Action Committees is based on ideological issues, like abortion and guns.
King often rails against wasteful spending. In 2018, he voted for a bill that would cut billions in unspent federal funds that were previously appropriated.
But a 2018 report shows he used taxpayer money at an expensive club in Washington, D.C. The money came from his congressional expense account, which is given to lawmakers to pay for things like staff, travel and constituent services. It’s also used for costs that come up in relation to official duties.
King also has a history of paying his son and daughter-in-law as full-time campaign staff, even during years when he isn’t campaigning.
“Rep. Steve King’s corruption goes beyond his constant racist and hateful rhetoric that has made him a national embarrassment,” End Citizens United said. “King has received thousands of dollars from the most extreme fringe groups in politics, including one founded by a violent Neo-Nazi and another founded by a white nationalist and anti-Semite who believes in using eugenics for population control.”
That’s the reason why the group set its sights on removing King.
“J.D. Scholten is proving he’s the antidote to King by rejecting corporate PAC money and pledging to give Iowans a voice in Congress,” Muller said in the press release. “End Citizens United is proud to stand with Scholten, and we will do everything we can to make sure King never steps foot back in Congress again.”