By Elaine Magliaro
News broke this week that House majority whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), spoke at a conference hosted by the white supremacist group European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) twelve years ago. Huffington Post reported today that Louisiana political blogger Lamar White Jr. had dug up a number of posts on Stormfront, the Internet’s oldest and most notorious white nationalist and neo-Nazi forum, which showed that Scalise was allegedly an honored guest and speaker at an international conference of white supremacist leaders in 2002. HuffPo said that according “to one user who attended the conference, Scalise — then a state representative — spoke to the organization at a workshop ‘to teach the most effective and up-to-date methods of civil rights and heritage related activism.'”
The Washington Post said Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, acknowledged today that he spoke at a gathering hosted by white-supremacist leaders while serving as a state representative in 2002, “thrusting a racial controversy into House Republican ranks days before the party assumes control of both congressional chambers.” The paper also reported that an adviser for the Congressman from Louisiana “said the congressman didn’t know at the time about the group’s affiliation with racists and neo-Nazi activists.”
HuffPo noted that EURO, which was founded by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in 2000, “seeks to fight for ‘white civil rights.'” The organization has reportedly “been called a hate group by several civil rights organizations.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), whose office has been beating back criticism about a speech he gave at a 2002 gathering hosted by a white supremacist group, received some ill-timed praise from the group’s founder Monday evening. The notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke described Scalise as “a fine family man” with whom he often agrees.
For his part, Scalise’s office has said he was unaware of the white supremacist group’s views when as a state lawmaker, he spoke at the 2002 conference. But in 1999, then-state Rep. Scalise told a Washington newspaper that he agreed with many of Duke’s “conservative” views.
The Washington Post said that the news of Scalise’s appearance at the EURO conference “could complicate Republican efforts to project the sense of a fresh start for a resurgent, diversifying party as the new session of Congress opens next week. In the time since voters handed control of Congress to Republicans, top GOP leaders have been eagerly trumpeting their revamped image and management team on Capitol Hill.”
Huffington Post said that two years “after speaking at the conference, Scalise was one of just six state representatives who voted to oppose making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday in Louisiana.” He was also one of three lawmakers who voted against it in 1999.
The Times-Picayune said that “Several Republicans — as well as Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond — have come to Scalise’s defense, saying he is not a racist.”
Steve Scalise: ‘I detest any kind of hate group’ (The Times-Picayune)