News outlet The Weekly Standard released an audio recording of Rep. Steve King referring to immigrants from the West Coast as “dirt” during a conversation with constituents before the midterm elections last week.
King, who staved off a challenge from Democrat J.D. Scholten by 3 points last week, had previously denied he made the comments and called for the audio’s release.
He accused The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, of writing “willful lies.”
At the meeting with constituents last Monday, before the election, King was riffing with people about the jalapeños he would need to grow at his home garden for his “patented pheasant noodle soup” recipe.
“I guess I’m going to have to go get some dirt from Mexico to grow the next batch,” King is heard saying in the audio.
“Trust me, it’s already on its way,” a female constituent says in the tape as the gathering laughs.
“Well, yeah, there’s plenty of dirt. And it’s coming from the West Coast, too,” King joked. “And a lot of other places, besides. This is the most dirt we’ve ever seen.”
King appeared to catch himself, realizing that reporters were in the room, and tried to suggest that what he had just said was off the record.
“This is actually not supposed to start for another six minutes, is it? But, so we’re just kind of chatting here informally here until things get rolling,” King said.
In journalism, it is standard practice that anything a politician — or anyone, for that matter — says is on the record unless conditions of the conversation are mutually agreed upon beforehand.
King has made headlines over the past couple years for retweeting and meeting with far-right groups with ties to Nazis. He consistently decries what he sees as the demise of white Americans as the U.S. becomes more diverse.
“Western civilization is on the decline,” King said at a meeting recently with a handful of reporters and activists, including a member of a far-right group in Austria that was founded by a former Nazi S.S. officer.
King has denied he is a white supremacist.