Republican Iowa Representative Steve King has said he doesn’t want to sign off on federal Hurricane Sandy relief unless a specific plan on how the money will be spent is set in place. He supported his statement with claims that money provided during Hurricane Katrina was spent on “Gucci bags and massage parlors.”
According to KMA Radio, in a debate against Democratic opponent Christie Vilsack last night in Mason City, Iowa, King said, “I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and this sand and the ashes and the death that’s over there in the east coast and especially the northeast … But they need to come with a plan on how to spend it.”
In 2005, King voted against a bill to give nearly $52 billion for Hurricane Katrina relief. The money was set to be used to prepare for future disasters.
“Can you imagine in the middle of a disaster to ask for appropriations for mitigating future disasters?” King asked. “That’s why I said no on that second round of appropriations for Katrina … because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of — in addition to what was necessary.”
King has a history of making very controversial statements. In the past he has said President Barack Obama “favors the black man” and has suggested that Haitians refugees should be deported to become “relief workers.”
Vilsack criticized King’s comments as “heartless” and “extreme” and said, “In Iowa, we take care of people.”
“I hope that he will show the kind of kindness that Iowans do when we take care of people and when we have a disaster here as we have in past years with flooding,” she said. “How can we expect people to come in and take care of our disasters if we’re not willing to come in and take care of theirs?”
“Sometimes you have to take lumps, but you have to do the right thing,” King said in defense of his Katrina decisions and the criticism that followed.
The debate was the seventh and final one between the two candidates in Iowa’s fourth congressional district. King is running for his sixth term.