Allies of Rep. Steve Scalise, desperate to help him distance himself from having spoken at a white supremacist conference in 2002, trotted out a David Duke adviser named Kenny Knight on New Year’s Eve to claim that he wasn’t at that conference at all, he spoke at an entirely different event at the same hotel:
Reports that Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, gave a speech to a white nationalist conference connected with David Duke in 2002 are not accurate, the man who organized the events said Wednesday (Dec. 31).
Kenny Knight, a longtime political adviser to Duke, said Scalise spoke at a meeting of the Jefferson Heights Civic Association — not affiliated with the European-American Unity and Rights conference that was held in the same Metairie hotel — two-and-a-half hours before the white nationalist event started…
Knight said he rented and paid for the hotel conference room for the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group founded by Duke. Since he had already paid for the space, Knight said, he decided to also hold his local civic association meeting at the Metairie hotel. He stressed that the two gatherings were not connected.
“Steve Scalise did not address a EURO conference. … The conference was two-and-a-half hours later,” Knight said…
Knight said he was not a member of EURO and did not arrange for any speakers at the 2002 conference, he said. He only booked and paid for the room as a favor to Duke, a personal friend whose campaigns he had worked on in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Duke, at the time, was living outside of the country in Moscow and addressed the conference remotely.
Conservative websites immediately began trumpeting this as an ironclad alibi. There’s just one problem: Knight was lying.
But a June 2002 EURO newsletter that included a synopsis of the event featured a small picture of Knight “addressing” the May 2002 EURO conference,” according to a copy of the newsletter collected by the Anti-Defamation League. The newsletter didn’t mention Scalise.
There are discrepancies between Knight’s account of the 2002 event now and an earlier version reported by The Washington Post. In that story, Knight is quoted as saying he asked Scalise “to be the first speaker before the meeting kicked off.”
He also is quoted saying: “Steve came in early on the first day of EURO, spoke for about 15 minutes, and he left.”
And not only was he a member of EURO, despite his claim to the contrary, he was the treasurer of the group:
The David Duke associate who disavowed membership in a white nationalist group linked to U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was at one time an officer in that group, according to public records. Kenny Knight told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Wednesday that he was not a member of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, but documents filed with the Louisiana secretary of state’s office list him as treasurer of its predecessor, the National Organization for European American Rights, in 2000.
Further, a May 16, 2002, news release on an an archived version of EURO’s former website, www.whitecivilrights.com, lists Knight as “EURO Louisiana State Representative Kenny Knight.” The release says Knight was expected to address the group’s May 17-18, 2002, conference.
Caught in the lie, Knight suddenly decided that he’s “not communicating any more with the news media. I’m finished with y’all.” So much for that alibi.