WASHINGTON, DC – The Humane Society of the United States has allocated the majority of its campaign budget this year to ensure that Representative Steve King of Iowa doesn’t win a sixth term in Congress. At issue are his opposition to laws designed to give calves, pregnant sows and hens less restrictive pens and cages.
The nearly half-million dollar Stop the King of Cruelty campaign highlights King’s opposition to bills related to dog fighting and requiring emergency management offices to account for pets and service dogs in their preparedness plans.
“He has made himself the self-appointed leader to oppose animal welfare laws in the House of Representatives,” Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said of the conservative Iowa congressman. “He routinely speaks against animal protection policies and tries to defeat them.”
But King says the Humane Society is targeting him because he’s an effective advocate for the state’s farmers. “The (Humane Society) and their legislative fund has a clear agenda of passing more burdensome government regulations down to America’s farmers and Congressman King has been particularly effective in working to get government out of the way and allow the Iowa AG industry to produce,” said campaign spokesman Jimmy Centers.
The Humane Society’s ads focus on pets without addressing the clashes they’ve had with King on farming issues. Iowa the largest egg-producing state in the nation, and King’s district plays a major role in that distinction.
King led the effort this past summer to stop moves a few states are making to increase the quality and size of cages for hens. The California Legislature approved a bill that made more expansive cage requirements to all eggs sold in California, regardless of where the eggs are produced. Iowa produces about 30 percent of the eggs purchased in California.
The Representative successfully included a measure in the House farm bill that would bar California and other states from imposing their cage standards to agricultural producers in Iowa. King says that California’s law violates a clause in the Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states.
After the House Agriculture Committee passed the amendment, Kind said it will “ensure that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and PETA are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.”
Democrat Christie Vilsack is opposing King in a newly redrawn district that now includes the college town of Ames. The Republican hasn’t faced a tough re-election before but will this time, opening the door for the Humane Society to weigh in.
The Humane Society’s ads don’t touch on the battles they’ve waged with King on agriculture issues. They’re focused primarily on stands King has taken on dog fighting, noting that he voted against a 2007 bill making it a felony to transport animals across state lines for fighting purposes and voted against a 2012 amendment that prohibits bringing a child to organized animal fights.
Centers said King condemns all forms of animal fighting. His problem with the legislation cited by the Humane Society is that dog fighting is already illegal in all 50 states and bringing a child to a dogfight constitutes endangerment. “How many times do we need to make something illegal if it’s illegal?” Centers said. “Why create more and more government bureaucracies and legislation when something is already illegal?”
King was given a seal of approval this year from the Iowa Farm Bureau, which designated him a “friend of agriculture.”