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House Republican retweets Nazi sympathizer, faces no punishment

The question is less about Steve King and more about what Republican leaders are willing to tolerate from Steve King.
Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Oct. 4, 2013.

Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) ugly history on matters related to race, alas, is not new. And yet, new King controversies keep coming up. The Washington Post  reported:

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa is drawing scrutiny after sharing a social media post from a British white nationalist who has described himself in the past as an admirer of Hitler's Germany and a "Nazi sympathizer."King, whose racially inflected comments on subjects such as immigration and Western culture have drawn headlines for years, retweeted the British white nationalist Mark Collett, who had shared a statistic from Breitbart News on Tuesday morning about opinions of "mass immigration" in Italy."Europe is waking up," King wrote, above Collett's tweet. "Will America ... in time?"

There can be no doubt about Collett's abhorrent vision. As a Slate  piece explained, "According to HuffPost, Collett was once the youth leader of the British National Party, an extreme far-right party, and he once said that AIDS is a 'friendly disease because blacks, drug users, and gays have it.' He has also espoused anti-Semitic beliefs and appeared frequently on far-right and white nationalist podcasts. In his Twitter feed, he talks about white genocide, a popular concept among white supremacists, and the 'price of multiculturalism.'"

But what matters in this case is not Collett's disgusting worldview. It's not even Steve King's unsurprising willingness to promote Collett's online content.

What shouldn't go overlooked is the Iowa Republican's ability to get away with stuff like this -- because the right-wing congressman's party has an endless tolerance for his offensive antics. Or put another way, the question is less about Steve King and more about what GOP leaders intend to do about Steve King.

For example, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is running for a full term this year, and she chose King to serve as one of her campaign co-chairs. Will the governor dissociate herself from the congressman in light of his retweet of a Nazi sympathizer? So far, no.

Reynolds isn't alone: no one from the congressional Republican leadership has denounced King, or even criticized him in the wake of his latest controversy. The Iowan is currently in charge of the House Judiciary Committee's panel on "the Constitution & Civil Justice," and GOP leaders could strip him of his gavel, but no one seriously expects that to happen.

Circling back to our coverage from last year, following an incident in which King denounced diversity, I remain curious about what the Iowa lawmaker would have to say or do to face meaningful punishment from his party. Is there a limit? If so, where exactly is that line?

If not, why not?

Every couple of months, Steve King says something outrageous, prompting outrage from much of the American mainstream. There's no credible doubt as to who he is or the kind of values the Iowan brings to his responsibilities. "King offends decent people" headlines have become almost comically routine, to the point that they practically seem unnecessary.

And with that in mind, why not shift the focus away from the congressman and toward those who empower and enable him? Does House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) agree King deserves to oversee a congressional committee on "the Constitution & Civil Justice"?