Nativism Watch

Controversial Congressman Fund-Raises on Behalf of White Nationalist Activists

Imagine 2050 Staff • Sep 17, 2012

Rep. Steve King, ardent supporter of all things ProEnglish (Photo: ryanjreilly Flickr page)

This summer, Rep. Steve King of Iowa’s 4th District authored and signed a fundraising letter for the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish. The letter was printed on his own letterhead, and carried his own picture and signature, as well. To solicit funding on behalf of a group staffed with individuals who are well-documented as activists within the organized white nationalist movement would be deemed career-suicide by many politicians.

But not by Rep. King, who by all rights seems a Teflon politician. His own record of bigotry won’t even stick to him, so why should that of others? In fact, King has worked closely with ProEnglish for an extended period of time.

Back in February at CPAC 2012, Steve King spoke on a ProEnglish panel. King shared the stage with white nationalist “intellectuals” Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire, both of the overtly racist Both are career bigots. Unfazed by his stage-fellows, Rep. King strolled up, shook Robert Vandervoort’s hand, executive director of ProEnglish, and began speaking. Rep. King has also worked with ProEnglish, using the group to rally support for his long suffering English-Only bill, HR 997, which has failed to be voted into law for a decade or so.

To that regard, towards the end of July he announced that he was inviting a ProEnglish board member to testify before a Congressional subcommittee about the social benefits of the bill.

King also seems unfazed by the fact that prior to being hired by ProEnglish, Vandervoort and Phil Tignino, who may or may not still work for the group, were both committed activists within the organized white nationalist movement. Both have at one time or another regularly sought out the company of and/or offered support to some of that movement’s most die-hard leaders and organizations. (For more on their backgrounds, reference here, here, here, and here.)

Regardless these myriad connections, King continues to openly support ProEnglish’s work, writing the following in his fundraising letter for the group:

“ProEnglish is one of the most effective organizations in the country working to make English the official language [….] The organization has a long history of opposing harmful things like bilingual ballots, bilingual education, and the admission of territories as states that have a language other than English as their official language – such as Puerto Rico.”

If not completely unashamed of the bigoted efforts of its staff members, why would ProEnglish want such a checkered politician as Rep. King, who has himself been accused of espousing bigotry, soliciting funds for its work?

After all, he once gave a speech on the floor of Congress in which he argued the United States’ southern border should be lined with an electric fence. He even made his own model of the fence to add visual weight to his speech. King also received mass criticism when he infamously compared his desire for our country to handpick only the very best of immigrants for admittance in the US to a process of selective “dog-breeding.” When pushed on this point recently, King “doubled-down,” claiming he’d meant the comment as a “compliment.”

See the Headline for ProEnglish’s misspelling

ProEnglish echoed such deep-set beliefs in another document included in the same direct mail packet that presents King’s letter. In a piece entitled “Petition To End The Multi-Lingual Mandate,” ProEnglish writes:

“America is fast becoming a modern Tower of Babel, with immigrants forced into miserable lives in the ghetto because they are told by the Washington elites it is ok not to learn English.”

There are tremendous problems with such a socially reductive declaration, not the least of which being that the group misspelled “Multi-Lingual” as “Multi-Ligual” in the petition’s headline. Readers are meant to sign the petition, and mail it to the their Congressional Representatives.

Many reporters are predicting that Rep King could lose this upcoming election to his opponent, Chistie Vilsack. Vilsack is the wife of former Iowa Governor and present US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Both remain popular figures in the state, and recent redistricting has seen the leftist stronghold of Ames, Iowa, moved into the state’s 4th District.

It is certain that Rep. King wouldn’t welcome questions from reporters regarding his efforts to personally fund-raise on behalf of ProEnglish. Regardless of one’s stance on English-only legislation, the records of activism that fill the backgrounds of ProEnglish’s staff are irrefutable. It will remain to be seen whether or not such efforts will serve to scrap away some of his Teflon.


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