Pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc. and utilities provider Black Hills Energy joined the growing list of businesses that are ceasing their funding for King, both companies told HuffPost on Thursday.
“Black Hills Energy’s political action committee has contributed to Rep. Steve King’s campaign, but will no longer do so because of recent statements which conflict with our company values,” said a spokesperson for Black Hills Energy.
Smithfield Foods’ and Black Hills Energy’s decisions follow announcements by several large corporations, including Intel, Purina and Land O’ Lakes, they they have also withdrawn their backing. Most of the political action committees and corporations that have dropped their support also contributed relatively little sums of money to King’s campaign compared with larger donors.
King, an eight-term congressman who has easily defended his seat in the past despite his extreme anti-Islam, anti-immigrant rhetoric and ties to the international far-right, is facing growing public pressure over his recent visit to Austria. HuffPost reported last month that the congressman spouted white nationalist conspiracies and overtly racist ideology in a lengthy interview with far-right Austrian website Unzensuriert. King spoke with the website while on a trip funded in part by a Holocaust remembrance organization.
While in Vienna, The Washington Post reports, he also met with representatives of Austria’s Freedom Party, a far-right political party founded in the 1950s by a former Nazi SS officer. King has a long history of hateful rhetoric against immigrants and Muslims, and has expressed his support for far-right extremists.
Two of Iowa’s prominent Jewish leaders condemned King this week in a letter to the Des Moines Register, and called on donors to stop funding his campaign. King is “an enthusiastic crusader” for the same beliefs as those of the anti-Semitic attacker who killed 11 people on Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the Jewish leaders wrote.
But despite his ideology, many of King’s largest donors remain supportive of his re-election campaign or have not announced plans to cease funding. Koch Industries, the American Bankers Association, the American Crystal Sugar Co., Tyson Foods Inc. and the National Beer Wholesalers Association did not return HuffPost’s requests for comment on whether they were sticking with the congressman.
Meanwhile, AT&T told HuffPost that it had no plans to make any additional campaign donations this year and said it would closely review future funding, but did not commit to ending its contributions entirely. Berkshire Hathaway Energy similarly distanced itself from King, but did not say it would fully drop its support.
“Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s political action committee has not made any donations to Rep. King since 2017 and any future donations will be carefully evaluated in light of current events,” said Jessica Strawn, director of corporate communications for Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
King is facing a much closer race in this campaign than in previous elections. One poll from Oct. 29 put King only a point ahead of Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten.
King has been on the defensive following the loss of donors, political backlash and increased media scrutiny. He has tried to downplay his far-right views, and at a press conference Thursday became irate and asked security to remove a member of the public who asked him about his support of white nationalism.