WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Steve King of Iowa has little use for the Humane Society, particularly when it comes to laws designed to give calves, pregnant sows and hens a little more freedom on the farm.
The society's political arm is devoting the majority of its campaign budget this year — nearly $500,000 so far — to ensuring King doesn't win a sixth term.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund calls its campaign Stop the King of Cruelty. Its ads take him to task for his opposition to bills related to dogfighting 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,” Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said of King. “He routinely speaks against animal protection policies and tries to defeat them.”
King's campaign says the Humane Society is going after 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 ads focus on pets but don't address clashes they've had with King on farm issues. Iowa is the nation's largest egg-producing state, and King's district plays a big part in that. King led the effort this past summer to scuttle efforts a few states are making to increase the quality and size of cages for hens.
California, a leader in the effort, passed a law extending its cage standards to all eggs sold in that state. King got included in the House farm bill a measure to bar states like California from exporting their cage standards to egg producers in Iowa.
King is running against Democrat Christie Vilsack in a newly redrawn district that now includes the college town of Ames. He hasn't faced a tough re-election before but has one on his hands this time, prompting the Humane Society to weigh in.
The Humane Society tried to give Vilsack a $1,000 donation, but her campaign declined the money. It has a policy of not accepting donations from groups that lobby the U.S. Agriculture Department, headed by Vilsack's husband, Tom Vilsack. He is a former governor of Iowa.
The Humane Society's ads don't touch on battles it has waged with King on agriculture issues, instead focusing on stands King has taken on dogfighting, noting that he voted against a 2007 bill making it a felony to transport animals across state lines for fighting and voted against a 2012 amendment to prohibit bringing a child to animal fights.
Centers said King condemns all forms of animal fighting and notes dogfighting already is illegal nationwide . “Why create more and more government bureaucracies and legislation when something is already illegal?”
King got a seal of approval this year from the Iowa Farm Bureau, which designated him a “friend of agriculture.”
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