White nationalists and other extremists have long praised Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) as their champion and public-facing megaphone ― he’s a white supremacist himself and openly promotes them, so it’s no surprise the congressman is celebrated in those circles.
But newly leaked chat logs linked to a prominent hate group reveal that white nationalists have actively worked to keep King and his racist ideology in office — by donating to his campaign, calling members of Congress to show their support when King stumbles or by attempting to reach the congressman directly.
On Wednesday, an independent media organization called Unicorn Riot released a searchable database containing what the company says are “more than 770,000 messages from chat servers associated with Identity Evropa,” a white nationalist collective designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center that prides itself on its college campus recruiting campaigns.
“We need to keep him in office. We need 100 Steve Kings in office. Call his office too and show your support.”
Part of Unicorn Riot’s goal in the leak was to cast light on Identity Evropa members’ involvement in the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the group’s attempts to sanitize its own image to stay legitimate. (Unicorn Riot’s previous leaks have been instrumental in cases surrounding “Unite the Right,” too).
But a search for King’s name in the database reveals that Identity Evropa also concerns itself with sanitizing the congressman’s image for the stated purpose of keeping white supremacy in government.
On Jan. 15, a few days after King infamously wondered aloud why terms like “white supremacist” used to describe him are offensive, someone on Identity Evropa’s Discord chat server worried that King was jeopardizing his seat.
“Steve King is more useful in Congress than as a nobody,” wrote user TMatthews. “He needs to be more careful about who he talks to and to not make tactless statements to the media.”
King’s quote must have also worried Identity Evropa’s leader, Patrick Casey (aka Reinhard Wolff). As GOP leadership was stripping King of his committee assignments over his comment, Casey ordered his followers to call the office of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and voice their support for King. Casey wrote:
Your task for today is to call Kevin McCarthy’s office and let them know that you stand with Steve King—that you take issue with McCarthy’s kowtowing to the left. Call both of these numbers ... Let’s get to work.”
Others posted numbers for the House Republican Steering Committee for the same purpose.
One user said they’d been successful:
“Got through on the 202 number. Thanked lady for taking my call, identified myself as a member of a young conservationist Republican group that supports Congressman Steve King.”
In the days leading up to King’s re-election in November, users urged one another to call King’s office to “express your support” and donate to his campaign.
“I just donated to Steve King, and I am dangerously broke. Everyone throw in at least $10!!” wrote one user. Another wrote, “Our opponents have turned their gaze upon him, and Conservative Inc has, predictably, abandoned him. We need to keep him in office. We need 100 Steve Kings in office. Call his office too and show your support.”
Members understood that an endorsement from King could and would legitimize Identity Evropa. In chats, they noted whenever the congressman retweeted or otherwise endorsed prominent white nationalists like Faith Goldy and Lana Lokteff, and they encouraged retweets among members so that King himself might “respond” to their messages.
“Steve King just replied to the Defend Europa twitter account,” wrote one user in November 2017. Another said that King “needs an invite,” presumably to their chat server.
It’s not clear how successful any of these efforts were, or whether donations or calls actually affected King’s image or re-election campaign. But the revelation that King has white nationalist activism ― not just praise ― in his corner is a big one.
King’s camp didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s calls for comment.
This story has been updated with additional information about Unicorn Riot.