Wisconsin's Steve King nominated for ambassador

The Republican party insider has ties to the Watergate scandal

Wisconsin businessman Steve King will be nominated for US ambassador to the Czech Republic. This confirms rumors that circulated in May. At first, there was confusion, as a congressman from Iowa has the same name, but the congressman denied that he was being considered.

The administration of US President Donald Trump (Republican) announced the nomination on July 10.

The 75-year-old nominee is a long-time activist in the Wisconsin Republican party. If his nomination is confirmed, he will succeed US Ambassador Andrew Schapiro, who stepped down when Trump was inaugurated Jan. 20. The embassy is currently led by Chargé d’Affaires Kelly Adams-Smith, a career diplomat.

King is a Republican appointee to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The state has some of the strictest voting laws in the US, including a requirement to show voter ID.

He has served on the Republican National Committee since 2007 and was involved with planning the 2016 Republican National Convention, which took place in Cleveland.

King also is a close associate of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican), who is second in line to become president if Trump is impeached or found unfit to serve under the 25th amendment to the US Constitution. Both King and Ryan come from the city of Janesville, Wisconsin. King at the 2012 Republican Convention formally nominated Ryan for vice president. The ticket of Mitt Romey and Paul Ryan lost in the general election to the Democratic nominees Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

King also has close ties to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (Republican), a longtime resident of Wisconsin.

King was state Republican chairman from 1985 to 1988. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1988, losing the Republican primary. Democrat Herb Kohl eventually won the Senate seat.

King's involvement in the Republican party goes back to the early 1970s when he was involved in CREEP, the Committee for the Re-Election of the President. When the Watergate scandal broke King was involved as security for stopping leaks to the press from CREEP insiders. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon (Republican).

The 1979 biographical book Martha: the Life of Martha Mitchell, by Winzola McLendon, contains an account of King's efforts to prevent Martha Mitchell, the wife of then-US Attorney General John Mitchell, to call the press and tell what she knew about the Nixon campaign's activities. The book claims that King, among other things, ripped a phone out of the wall, threw her down and kicked her. She required stitches after a scuffle by a glass door, according to the book.

King has sought to minimize the significance of the incident, while not fully denying that it took place.

After Nixon was re-elected in the midst of the scandal in 1972, King was appointed special assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz.

King worked for the FBI in the 1960s before he turned to politics.

If confirmed, King will be the second Wisconsin Republican to be ambassadorship to the Czech Republic. Richard Graber served as an ambassador under President George W. Bush from 2006 to '09. Graber and King both served as chairmen of the Wisconsin GOP.

A Republican press release issued ahead of the 2016 party convention said that King is a founder and partner at the King Capital, LLC, a member of the board of directors for First Community Bank, Milton, Wisconsin, and the National BSA (Boy Scouts of America).

He is also a member of the Boy Scouts of America and served as a national officer to the BSA in Dallas, Texas, and is a member of the Society of Former Special Agents, FBI. Inc.

King has served on several committees for the Republican National Committee including on the 2012 convention Housing Committee and as the convention Sergeant of Arms. He has been a delegate to six RNC conventions, among other party activities, according to biography on the Republican press release.

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