House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke at a white supremacist group’s event in 2002 while he served as a state representative, an unwelcome bit of news for Republicans preparing for the new Congress.
Scalise acknowledged speaking to the group created by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, but said it was “insulting and ludicrous” to think he shared the group's views.
“I didn't know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group," he said in an interview with Nola.com on Monday. "For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,” he said.
The Louisiana political blog CenLamar initially published posts from Stormfront.com, a white supremacist message board, which mentioned Scalise speaking at an event for the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.Jennifer Rubin writes:
Scalise did not deny that he spoke to the group, but said he spoke to a number of groups about his opposition to governemnt spending when he served as a state representative.
His spokesman’s explanation is less than satisfying. (“In a statement, Scalise’s spokesperson Moira Bagley emphasized that the then-state lawmaker was unaware at the time of the group’s ideology and its association with racists and neo-Nazi activists.”) Really, nothing about the name of the organization tipped him off? “Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints,” Bagley said. “In every case, he was building support for his policies, not the other way around. In 2002, he made himself available to anyone who wanted to hear his proposal to eliminate slush funds that wasted millions of taxpayer dollars as well as his opposition to a proposed tax increase on middle-class families.” That is equally unconvincing. Would he have spoken to a KKK rally? To the American Nazi Party?
His appearance before that group was inexcusable, but his rather uncompelling reaction is more concerning. He holds a position of leadership and should be a model of good judgment and conduct. (Are there other appearances before other hate groups?) This is no way to start off the new Congress.