A group of about 200 people calling themselves "pro-family leaders" is calling for Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to be reinstated to the committee assignments he lost as part of the fallout last month for reportedly questioning whether the term "white nationalist" should be offensive.

A letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the group also asks for McCarthy to publicly apologize for the punishment, calling it a rush to judgment.

"Unlike North Korea, we in the United States are 'innocent until proven guilty' and hold to the principles of Western Civilization, as Rep. King so admirably does," the letter says.

Its signatories include former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, evangelical author James Dobson and William Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors.

The controversy was touched off when King asked in a New York Times interview published last month, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?"

It followed a long string of remarks disparaging immigrants and minorities, as well as a seeming embrace of far-right foreign politicians and parties that have been openly hostile to those same groups.

King, who was elected to a ninth term in November, maintained that he had been misquoted in the Times piece.

"We are appalled that Republican leadership would choose to believe a liberal news organization famous for their bias over an outstanding member of Congress who has served the people of Iowa and the United States honorably and faithfully for 16 years," the letter to McCarthy says.

King served on the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business Committees in the last Congress.

In his tweet sharing the letter Tuesday, King said the authors "know when the 'outrageous misquote' of a biased & liberal NYTimes takes free rein to 'falsely brand' Republicans, no conservative is safe."

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