Congress

Man pleads guilty to assaulting Rep. Steve King by throwing water on him

Blake Gibbins, 27, faces up to a year in prison for March incident

A man pleaded guilty on Monday to assaulting Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, by throwing water on the congressman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Colorado man pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a congressman for throwing water on Iowa Rep. Steve King.

Blake Gibbins, 27, faces up to a year in prison, a $100,000 fine, and five years probation for his role in the incident, the Des Moines Register reported.

Gibbins, an Iowa native who now lives in Colorado, was accused in March of approaching King’s table at the Mineral City Mill and Grill in Fort Dodge, Iowa, asking the Republican congressman who he was and then dispensing the contents of his water cup onto King. The water splashed onto at least one other person at the table, according to reports of the incident.

Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Mahoney will determine Gibbins’ sentence at a later date.

Gibbins originally pleaded not guilty to charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors under Iowa law. But the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa later charged him with assaulting King because he is a congressman.

A former classmate and friend of Gibbins raised more than $5,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his legal fees.

“Nearly everybody knows Steve King is a boob. Blake did what many of us wish we could do. Let’s show him our support for his actions!” the organizer, Carly Johansen, wrote on the GoFundMe page, entitled “FREE BLAKE.”

King has received considerable public attention for his racist comments and actions over the last few years.

The full House voted 421-1 on a resolution earlier this year meant to rebuke King for making racist comments to the New York Times. House GOP leadership stripped King of his Judiciary Committee and Agriculture Committee assignments after the comments.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said, according to the New York Times.

“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” he is quoted as asking.

Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, the only member who voted against the resolution rebuking King, said it didn’t go far enough to condemn the Iowa congressman’s behavior.

King narrowly won reelection to Iowa’s 4th District seat in the 2018 election, edging out Democrat J.D. Scholten by 3 points, 50.3 percent to 47 percent. President Donald Trump carried the district by 27 points in the 2016 presidential election.

Scholten is one of a handful of Democrats who narrowly lost in ruby red districts in 2018 who are gunning for rematches against GOP incumbents.

Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra and two other Republican candidates have mounted primary campaigns against King. Feenstra has gathered backing from the state’s GOP establishment.

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