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A young man is facing up to a year in federal prison for splashing a glass of water over Congressman Steve King as he lunched at a restaurant in Iowa in March.
Blake Gibbins, 26, from Lafayette, Colorado, pleaded guilty earlier this week to assaulting a member of Congress, a federal misdemeanor. In addition to the prison sentence, he’s also looking at five years probation plus a maximum fine of $100,000.
Gibbins spotted King at the Mineral City Mill and Grill, an informal American restaurant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on the afternoon of March 22. He approached King, who was with a group, and asked him who he was, according to the Des Moines Register. After getting confirmation, Gibbins threw the contents of his water glass at Kingand splashed some of the people he was sitting with.
The FBI, the Fort Dodge Police Department, and the U.S. Capitol Police investigated the case. Gibbins initially pleaded not guilty to state charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct. But the Northern District of Iowa later hit him with more charges.
The incident came only months after the nine-term Republican congressman mused in a New York Times interview, “white nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections last November, when King narrowly eked out a victory, he found himself on the ropes as decades of simmering allegations of racism finally came to a head. In response to his comments to the Times, Congress voted to strip King of his committee assignments.
Gibbins’ friend set up a GoFundMe to help cover his legal fees, which has raised more than $5,000 since March. “Nearly everybody knows Steve King is a boob,” his friend, who lives in King’s district, wrote on the crowdfunding site. “Blake did what many of us wish we could do. Let’s show him our support for his actions!”
Cover image: U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during a town hall meeting, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Primghar, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)