ALGONA, Iowa — The meat industry has been hammered for the weeks after it was revealed that some companies had been controversially using beef scraps mixed with ammonia hydroxide, called “pink slime”, as hamburger filler. This week, one passionate defender of pink slime emerged: Rep. Steve King (R-IA).
As we know, King enjoys touting his carnivorous habits while beating up on people who don’t eat meat. But meat producers have also been major financial backers of King, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, throughout his political career. A cursory glance at King’s fundraising records shows more than $45,000 in campaign contributions from the meat industry during his time in Congress. This cycle alone, two prominent PACs, the National Beef Cattleman’s Association and the National Council of Pork Producers, as well as Lynch Livestock, have already maxed out their contributions to King’s reelection campaign.
That money appears to have been well-spent. All this week, King has been defending pink slime — or “lean finely textured beef” as he calls it — to his constituents. Indeed, in every one of the half dozen town halls that ThinkProgress attended, King talked up pink slime unprompted. In Emmetsburg, for instance, he said pink slime was actually a “supplement” and an “enhancement.” In Algona, he pledged to hold congressional hearings not into pink slime, but into the “smear campaign” against pink slime.
Watch a short clip of King defending pink slime:
KING: I’m on the phone today and throughout the weekend and into last week trying to establish a congressional hearing before the Ag Committee for Beef Products, Incorporated, so that we can put into the congressional record the nutritional value and the safety and the tastiness of their product which is an enhancement to hamburger. I’m working with Governor Branstad on that. At this point, there will be a decision made today I think on whether we’re able to get a hearing.
The meat industry is engaged in an all-too-common practice: making campaign contributions to politicians, who in turn go to bat for the industry in the public sphere, whether that’s defending it to constituents or holding hearings into opponents.