SIOUX CITY — U.S. Rep. Steve King said Thursday he didn’t realize he was retweeting a Nazi sympathizer in a Tuesday message that has stirred up controversy.
The 4th District congressman, who represents parts of Northeast Iowa, has come under fire for the anti-immigration tweet he shared from a self-proclaimed Nazi sympathizer from Britain.
The backlash grew this week after the congressman retweeted an initial post by Mark Collett, then added a few words of his own.
According to Huffington Post, Collett is one of Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists. He has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and has called himself a “Nazi sympathizer.”
Collett on Twitter calls himself a political activist and is author of “The Fall of Western Man.” He shared a Breitbart article and wrote that, “65% of Italians under the age of 35 now oppose mass immigration. Europe is waking up...”
King then added, “Europe is waking up...Will America...in time?”
“That was a Breitbart story,” King said Thursday. “... I don’t know the names of who wrote the article or who might have tweeted it. I’ve never heard them, and I still don’t know them.”
The Huffington Post asked King if he knew the tweet had been written by a Nazi sympathizer.
“I still don’t know that,” King said.
On Thursday, he repeated the tweet: “Europe is waking up… will America… in time?” But this time linked to a Breitbart News article.
Some online replies to the King tweet included, “White supremacy is stupid and wrong, Steve. Stop it now.”
J.D. Scholten, King’s Democratic opponent in the 2018 election for the Iowa 4th Congressional District, on his campaign Twitter account made several critical mentions of the congressman’s tweet.
King has shown a growing interest in European right-wing politics, particularly since late 2016.
Controversy followed his March 2017 tweet in support of a Dutch politician who opposes immigration and has spoken against Islam. King tweeted that Geert Wilders “understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Then in December, King declared diversity is not an American strength and endorsed a European leader’s view “mixing cultures” leads to a lower quality of life.
King is a former construction company owner and state senator who lives in Kiron. He was first elected to the U.S. House in 2002.