Scalise Admits to Speaking at White Supremacist Conference

Rep. Steve Scalise, now the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, has admitted that he spoke at a white supremacist conference in 2002 put on by David Duke and his group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). But of course, he had no idea who he was speaking to:

The 48-year-old Scalise, who ascended to the House GOP’s third-ranking post earlier this year, confirmed through an adviser that he once appeared at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

That organization, founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center…

“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.”

She added, “He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question. The hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance that group projects is in stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic.”

Scalise’s political circle worked furiously late Monday to quell the storm, with his confidants e-mailing reporters and House members, assuring them that Scalise did not know the implications of his actions in 2002, and described him as a disorganized and ill-prepared young politician who didn’t pay close attention to invitations.

I’d have an easier time believing that if he wasn’t from Louisiana, home to David Duke. And if he had spoken out during or after the conference after he undoubtedly would have seen and heard all manner of white supremacist statements. This isn’t just some mainstream conservative group, these are genuine neo-Nazis and KKK types. It’s virtually inconceivable that one could attend that conference, even for a short time, without very quickly figuring out what was going on from the literature on tables, the buttons and stickers being sold and worn and so forth.

Indeed, that claim was too much even for right wing blogger Erick Erickson:

By 2002, everybody knew Duke was still the man he had claimed not to be. EVERYBODY.

How the hell does somebody show up at a David Duke organized event in 2002 and claim ignorance?

Well, it’s worked so many times before. And here’s the last thing that Scalise needed as he tries to distance himself from all of this: A David Duke endorsement.

Duke’s 1991 campaign had already made the former Ku Klux Klan leader a pariah in the rest of the country. He ultimately lost the gubernatorial race to Edwards, but many observers noted that he won a majority of the state’s white voters. Duke claimed Monday that within Louisiana, he was still well respected. As late as 2000, he pointed out, he sat on his local district’s Republican Party executive committee.

At the time, Duke had spent two years abroad after federal agents raided his home as part of an investigation into mail fraud and tax charges. He spoke to the 2002 conference via a teleconference link from Russia, so he is not sure whether Scalise would have heard his speech, which referenced his conspiracy theory about how “Israeli treachery” was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

“Even Republicans go to NAACP meetings, even though they may have disagreements with that group,” said Duke. He called Scalise “a good person,” with whom he agrees on many issues.

Well that oughta help.

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  • Alverant
  • Kamaka

    The hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance that group projects is in stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic.”

    “hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance” is a far cry from stark contradiction to devoted catholic.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    And now Rep King is comparing Scalise to Jesus.

    Jesus was a racist. Some people don’t seem to know that.

  • blf

    Duke himself is reported as claiming two of his close associates, Howie Farrell and Kenny Knight, invited Scalise to the conference. Farrell is apparently now dead, but Knight seems to have confirmed Scalise was there and may have confirmed he did invite Scalise (the excerpts I’m basing these statements on is not entirely clear who confirmed Duke’s claim of an invitation).

    The spin at the moment seems to be Scalise didn’t know what EURO was, albeit as everyone (it seems) is pointing out, there’s no fecking way he didn’t work it out when attending. And that it is extremely unlikely Scalise didn’t know who Duke was. (Knight has apparently said Scalise did know who he, Knight, was, but I don’t trust an unconfirmed claim from any of these kooks.)

  • Modusoperandi

    A Knight invited him to see a Duke, surrounded by village idiots. He thought it was a Medieval Fair.

  • Loqi

    Being from the party of personal responsibility, I’m just so surprised he either didn’t do his homework on David Duke (not to mention was apparently born the day of the event to have been an LA native and not have heard of him) or is lying to avoid culpability. Absolutely floored that a GOPer would do this. Really. This is my surprised face.

  • comfychair

    He deeply regrets getting caught speaking to a group with which he shared so much common ground.

    I’m sure the good man also spent considerable time speaking to groups at the opposite end of the political spectrum, too. Right?

  • chilidog99

    At the time this happened, Scalise had been elected to the state legislature in the district formerly represented by, wait for it. . . David Duke.

  • Anri

    To be fair, this was Louisiana. Scalise might have had trouble telling the difference between white supremacists (who we all know are terrible, terrible people) and just plain good ol’ boys (who we all know are plain-spoken salt-of-the-earth types). I understand his confusion – in the quarter century I lived there, I had the same trouble.


  • d.c.wilson

    “This isn’t just some mainstream conservative group, these are genuine neo-Nazis and KKK types.”

    These days, how do you tell the difference?

  • Onamission5

    I especially like how Duke tried to draw a comparison between his happy horseshit and the NAACP, as if a racist organization and an organization formed to combat racism are remotely the same thing.

  • colnago80

    Before getting all bent out of shape over this incident, let’s remember that it occurred 12 years ago. More to the point is what this miscreant has done since then. If this is the only such incident in his record, I would vote to give him a pass, assigning it to youthful indiscretion. On the other hand, if there are incidents subsequent to 2002 where he has similarly blotted his copybook, then the hammer should fall with all all due force.

  • roggg

    They elected Duke… Racism is a feature not a bug.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    No, no, don’t you see? Scalise wasn’t there speaking to a conference of racist scumbags because he shared their views, but because he wanted to win these racist scumbags over to his views (whatever they are). Instead of taking the whimpy, easy route of telling a group of people that he shares their views in order to get their votes, Scalise loved the challenge of first winning deranged racist scumbags over to his views, and then convincing them to vote for him. It was actually very heroic of him. This is totally proven by the fact that David Duke recently said that he agrees with Scalise on many issues.