Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, acknowledged on Monday that he spoke at an event which was hosted by white nationalist leaders while he was serving as a state representative in 2002.
The organization that feautred Scalise was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Scalise, via an adviser, admitted to appearing at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.
The Washington Post reports:
“Beyond hosting a website, whitecivilrights.com, and staging an occasional conference, EURO is a paper tiger, serving primarily as a vehicle to publicize Duke’s writing and sell his books,” the SPLC writes on its Web site.
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.
Other Scalise allies, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, argued that Scalise was poorly staffed during the period, when he was busy touring the state promoting his efforts to curb state spending.
“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.”
It’s difficult to comprehend how Scalise could not be aware of the who founded the hate group, or how he was totally unaware of his audience. Republican Twitter users are all, “But Robert Byrd was in the KKK.”
This story has nothing to do with the late Senator. Byrd joined the Klan in the 1940s and this is 2014.
But, Scalise did only have one staffer, so it’s understandable. I know when I’m really busy, I accidentally stumble into White Nationalist events all the time, completely unaware of where I am. The question is: Why did they want him to speak there?
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