Congress

Rep. Tim Ryan files ethics complaint on Steve King’s promotion of hate website

Complaint could revive efforts to censure Iowa Republican congressman

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan accused Republican Rep. Steve King of using his House site of promoting white nationalism. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tim Ryan filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee this week saying that Rep. Steve King is using his official House website to promote a white nationalist blog.

The move could revive efforts by Ryan and Illinois Democrat Bobby L. Rush to censure King for his racist comments.

The Ohio Democrat sent a letter Tuesday to the Ethics Committee alerting it of King’s use of his House site to promote VDare.com, a white nationalist blog.

“I want to make the Committee aware of the continued use of government resources on the part of Rep. King to promote and advance white nationalism,” Ryan wrote in his complaint.

He pointed to a Huffington Post report from earlier this week on King’s promotion of VDare.com, which features articles from prominent white supremacists, including Richard Spencer. The site is named for Virginia Dare, said to be the first white baby born in North America. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies VDare.com as “an anti-immigrant hate website.”

A censure resolution aimed at King is already in the Ethics panel's jurisdiction, after an effort to punish King for racist comments fizzled on the House floor in January. On a Jan 16 voice vote, the House referred a censure resolution from Rush to the Ethics panel, instead of censuring him directly.

The House did vote overwhelmingly on Jan. 15 for a resolution of “disapproval” of white supremacy that mentioned King in the text. But some lawmakers, including Ryan and Rush, didn’t think that went far enough.

“Rep. King’s behavior brings shame on the House of Representatives as a representative institution,” Ryan wrote in his letter, addressed to committee chairman Ted Deutch,D-Fla., and ranking Republican member Kenny Marchant  of Texas.

The House Ethics Committee could recommend a censure of King, following an investigation of the claims detailed in the resolution and now Ryan’s complaint. The panel could also recommend a reprimand or even expulsion from the House altogether.

A censure is a formal, majority vote in the House on a resolution disapproving of a member’s conduct, generally with the additional requirement that the member stand in the well of the chamber and receive a verbal rebuke and reading of the resolution by the speaker.

A total of 23 members have been censured in the House for misconduct ranging from using insulting language on the floor to assaulting other lawmakers. More recently, censures have stemmed from behavior such as payroll fraud, sexual misconduct and financial improprieties.

Technically, there are no express consequences in House rules after a member has been censured.

House Democrats weren’t alone in calling out King this week. Sen. Joni Ernst, expressed frustration this week with her fellow Iowa Republican's comments on immigration and white supremacy. She told Iowa reporters that she shouldn’t have to be “spending precious time talking about white supremacy and comments by a member of our delegation.” Ernst said “We really do need to start focusing on our speech and watching our tone.”

King was not seated on any committees for the 116th Congress because of backlash to his comments.

Steve King: ‘I want to ask my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, let’s vote for this resolution’

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