Land O’Lakes’ Support Of Steve King Melts After White Nationalist Comments

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 28: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, looks for his ride after the final votes of the week on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Faced with a potential boycott of its products, Land O’Lakes, Inc., the agriculture cooperative, announced Tuesday that its political action committee “will no longer support Rep. Steve King moving forward.”

The company announced the decision in a press release on its website, saying it wanted its political giving “to be a positive force for good” and that it sought to ensure “that recipients of our contributions uphold our company’s values.”

That marked a harsher slap on King’s wrist than has been administered by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), who have remained mum on King’s endorsements of white nationalism. Ryan, through a spokesperson, released a vague statement in June condemning Naziism that did not mention King by name two weeks after King retweeted a British neo-Nazi.

According to campaign finance filings recorded by the Federal Election Commission, Land O’Lakes, Inc. PAC’s last donation to King’s campaign — for $2,500 — occurred on June 21.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. PAC donated $1,000 to King for the 2016 election cycle, $3,000 in the 2014 cycle, $3,500 in the 2012 cycle, and so on. PACs associated with Land O’Lakes donated to every one of King’s congressional campaigns, dating back to the 2002 election cycle. The FEC does not track many types of spending meant to influence politics, such as so-called “dark money” paid through certain non-profit organizations. 

Intel announced in an internal email Thursday that it was ending its financial support of King. Other corporations have continued their support; AT&T’s PAC gave King’s campaign $5,000 on Sept. 30, for example, totalling $10,000 this cycle.

King’s promotion of white supremacist talking points, while always known, has faced extra scrutiny recently. In August, during a trip funded by a Holocaust memorial group in which he toured Nazi death camps, King gave an interview to a magazine associated with the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, which was founded by a former Nazi.

In line with recent actions aligning himself with white supremacists — including by retweeting and endorsing them — King parroted their talking points in the interview, wondering aloud, “What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have? Mexican food, Chinese food, those things — well, that’s fine. But what does it bring that we don’t have that is worth the price? We have a lot of diversity within the U.S. already.”

Distinguishing the interview with the far-right magazine from the tours of Holocaust sites, King said he wanted a “Polish perspective.”

I asked them what was worse, was it the Nazis or was it the Soviets?” he told the Washington Post.

King’s discussion with the magazine centered on a conspiracy theory promoted as a recruiting tool by white nationalists called the “great replacement.”

Robert Bowers, who was charged with killing 11 Jews in Saturday’s shooting of a Pittsburgh Synagogue, repeatedly posted online about his fear of foreigners replacing white Americans.

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