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Rep. King visits Estherville Wednesday

King talks Diamond & Silk, China’s thefts and why he’s the compassionate candidate

September 9, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

U.S. Rep. Steve King visited Estherville Wednesday evening. A crowd of about 60 at the Iowa Lakes Community College auditorium heard King talk about China and his experiences helping kids who needed medical care in his role as Iowa's fourth district's nine-term member of Congress. King is seeking a tenth term in 2020, this time with three opponents also seeking the Republican nomination.

King started his time by saying, "I represent the best people in the best place in the world to raise a family."

King began a policy discussion by talking about China's theft of intellectual property created by North American companies. Among the issues that pepper the complex U.S.-China trade negotiations is a claim by the CNBC Global CFO Council that more than one in five companies surveyed say Chinese firms have stolen from them.

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The Intellectual Property Commission estimates a loss to the U.S. economy of up to $600 billion because Chinese companies are infringing on American intellectual property. The Commission said China is the number one infringer of all IP.

IP can include everything from patents and inventions to pirating of movies, TV shows, music and other media for broadcast, to technology innovations. Consumer demand in China for these products has driven the temptation to steal instead of purchase IP, and is so pervasive it has knocked U.S. trade policy in the fourth quarter of 2018 from number one to number two in the world. The thefts involve companies in the U.S. like Apple, IBM and General Electric, as well as nearly every media and publishing company, along with companies that create innovations in agriculture.

King said he visited three cities in China to listen to presentations on intellectual property. From the first city to the second, King said it was the exact presentation he'd just heard in the first city. The third city was Beijing.

"As we got maybe five minutes into the presentation in Beijing, I thought, 'well, that's the same presentation I heard in the first two cities. I don't need to listen to it a third time," King said.

King said he pulled out his Blackberry and sent a note for his staff to draft a bill directing the U.S. Trade Representative to conduct a study to determine the value of U.S. Intellectual Property the Chinese have stolen, calculate a proper duty to apply to the property, and charge China for the cost of their theft, returning the funds to the proper owners of the IP.

"It got good traction right away, then over time Hollywood decided they didn't want to see that bill passed. I don't know why, because they have enough of their stuff that's pirated, too, except that they had a business model they didn't want to disrupt. That's my guess. But I don't really know," King said.

King said if the bill had passed, many of the issues with trade in China would be solved.

King said President Trump's handling of trade with China was like an object lesson from "The Art of the Deal."

"I always said I wanted a president who was an enigma who would also play brinksmanship. You watch these other presidents, and you could always tell what they were going to do. That's power for the other guys, not for usI think we got a little more than we thought we were going to get in those categories," King said.

King said the message from the U.S. is important in Chinese trade negotiation.

"I want the president to have the strongest hand he can have. That means if I want to say anything to him about these trade agreements, I will say it to them privately. If China sees us criticizing the president, they will see him as weaker and it will weaken his bargaining power at the table," King said.

King spent the end of July near El Paso, Texas to tour border detention facilities in the area that hold people who have crossed the southern border.

"They get a shower, they get a medical shot, they get three squares per day," King said. "They get the same food as they get at our military base that's near there. They get to choose from three separate meals, and it's 3,000 caloriesmost of them are getting all the food they want and probably more than they need. What we feed our troops should be good enough for inmates in a detention facility. I thought the way that they were being treated was respectful and humane," King said.

King noted the difference between detainees at the border and actual prison inmates, however.

"If any of them wants to go back home, all they have to do is ask. They'll get a ride to the border. They'll get a packed meal. Then they can leave. They're not being detained there against their will, except to say it's their will to stay in America. Otherwise they could go home to their home country," King said.

King said the border patrol interdicts 400-500 people per night under a bridge between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

Running those numbers, King wondered how long it would take for the people crossing the border to supplant or replace a Congressional district. Congressional districts in the U.S. have been set at 435 since the Permanent Apportionment Act was passed in 1929. The average size of a Congressional District based in the 2010 census was 710,767, an increase of about 10 percent over the 2000 census. As the U.S. population reconfigures, congressional seats are gained or lost as shown by Iowa going from six to five to four seats in just four censuses.

At that rate of crossing, if migrant people crossing the border are counted in the U.S. Census, the equivalent of two congressional seats would be created per year, or twenty per decennial census.

"It's appalling to me that we can sit here this long and not address this circumstance," King said. "It's an almost unfixable political situation."

David Thompson asked, "Would you be willing to introduce me to Diamond and Silk?"

Diamond and Silk are really Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, sisters who have a conservative-leaning show on Fox Nation, and King brought Diamond as his guest to the 2019 State of the Union address, and in June introduced the "Diamond and Silk Act," legally named the "End Sanctuaries and Help Our American Homeless and Veterans Act," with the duo by his side. The bill aimed to redirect federal funds for sanctuary cities to helping homeless military veterans.

King said Thompson could contact his staff and they could make that happen either in Iowa or in Washington, DC, where Thompson said he travels frequently.

Myron Brenner of Wallingford asked about James Comey's involvement in investigations of President Trump and the rule of law.

King said, "We're going to have to see indictments. They've weaponized the FBI. They've weaponized the CIA."

King added, "It may take a while to see justice. We need to let the justice department perform its function."

Brenner said, "We the people really have troubles."

King agreed, saying, "America is deconstructing. We're no longer a Constitutional Republic if the law doesn't apply to all of us."

King also answered a question about what sets him apart from the other congressional candidates.

King said he approaches his office with the theme of being a compassionate humanitarian, and told two stories to illustrate that assertion.

The most recent of these is the case of Jaci Hermstad, a young woman from Spencer who is living with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Jaci's identical twin, Alex, died from the rare and aggressive form of ALS (technically known as FUS p525L mutation) more than eight years ago. Since then, researchers have isolated the rare ALS gene in Jaci. A medication was developed just for Jaci, but it wasn't yet approved by the Food & Drug Administration.

King relied on a relationship some might find surprising.

"I went to [U.S. House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi for help," King said. Though the two are polar opposites in political philosophy, King said, "I have a decent personal relationship with her. There have been no cross words between us."

Ultimately, Pelosi helped navigate the regulations of the FDA and a waiver that cleared the way for the drug's use has given Jaci her best chance of survival with spinal infusions of the custom drug that took place in New York City this past summer.

The other story King told of his own compassionate actions happened in 2017 when Dr. Steven Meyer of Sioux City, who has long been a medical missionary, bringing teams to Tanzania to do needed surgeries on patients there, called King. King and his wife, Marilyn were on a trip to the Balkans at the time. Dr. Meyer told King there had been a bus accident and 10-12 Tanzanian children suffered severe fractures and other injuries and needed to be medically evacuated to the United States.

King said he worked through five different United States Embassies to acquire passports for the children, and ultimately called in a favor to Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and founder of Samaritan's Purse, to send a Samaritan's Purse plane to transport the children.

Meyers and his team of surgeons worked on the children in Sioux City and all of the children overcame their injuries, including one child who was feared permanently paralyzed.

"Some things are really rewarding about this job," King said.

King faces Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra of Sioux Center, business owner and Army combat veteran Bret Richards of Manning, and former Iowa State Representative and National Guard intelligence analyst Jeremy Taylor, an English teacher from Sioux City for the Republican nomination.

Democrat J.D. Scholten who lost the election to King in 2018 has announced he is running again for the Democratic nomination. The primary election will take place June 2, 2020.



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