Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s office today said that the then-state legislator may have spoken to a white supremacy group in 2002, but he did so as an attempt to spread his message to constituents. Scalise spokeswoman Moria Bagley said, “Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints. In every case, he was building support for his policies, not the other way around.” Over the weekend, a blog dedicated to Louisiana politics said that Scalise may have spoken at a conference run by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO for short. This group was started by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who has a large presence in Louisiana politics.
Following another controversy which saw GOP Congressman Michael Grimm resign after pleading guilty for tax evasion, the House GOP leadership rushed to support Scalise after what they claimed was an accident caused by poor organization. Scalise has said that he only had one staff person at the time. Both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McCarthy put out short statements reiterating their support for Scalise. Scalise and his allies have been working the phones, ensuring support inside the conference and Congress. Some have called on Scalise to step down as Majority Whip, while others have called on him to resign from Congress altogether.
Speaker Boehner said, “More than a decade ago, Representative Scalise made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate. Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know Steve to be a man of high integrity and good character. He has my full confidence as our Whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans.”
While Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy stated, “Congressman Scalise acknowledged he made a mistake and has condemned the views that organization espouses. I’ve known him as a friend for many years and I know that he does not share the beliefs of that organization.”
Scalise, first elected in 2008, became Majority Whip in the aftermath of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss. McCarthy, then serving as Majority Whip, took over as Majority Leader and Scalise was elected by his Republican conference as Majority Whip on the first ballot.