GOP Whip Steve Scalise Spoke At A "White Nationalist Event" Back In 2002 — REPORT
Things are getting uncomfortable for the Republican Party's fledgling House Majority Whip right about now. On Monday, the Washington Post's Robert Costa reported that GOP House Whip Steve Scalise spoke at a white nationalist event in 2002. And with the phrase "spoke at a white nationalist event" high on the list of ones no politician wants tagged to their record, Scalise's office isn't doing a great job of tamping down the controversy so far. A statement from Scalise's Communications Director Moira Bagley was unable to say definitively whether the accusations were true, but conceded that the GOP up-and-comer was giving a lot of speeches in those days, basically to anybody who would have him.
According to Costa's report, Rep. Scalise confirmed, via an adviser, that he gave a speech in 2002 to a group known as the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). And if you think that sounds like a euphemistic title for a falsely grandiose, pseudo-scientific racist organization, well, your intuitions are clearly well-primed. It was founded in 2000, by a man whose name you may find familiar: David Duke, the former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Holocaust denier who served one term in the House, from 1990 to 1992, before his disgraceful views scuttled his credibility in all respectable circles. It's considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and rightly so.
In her statement, Bagley insisted that any appearance Scalise might have made in front of EURO was definitely not an endorsement of their views. Rather, she claims Scalise would've been trying to build support for his policies.
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. 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. 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.
Not to be overlooked, just because the news really went big time after Costa and the Washington Post picked it up, the genesis of this revelation came from a local source. A Louisiana politics blogger named Lamar White, Jr. first went public with the accusations about Scalise on Sunday, citing a message board post on the infamous Stormfront.org, more or less the internet's go-to hub for virulent racism, white nationalism, neo-nazism, and so forth. The post identified Scalise as a EURO speaker in 2002, while also insisting the Housing and Urban Development fund was "an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race."
Rest assured, this'll be a top item on the House GOP leadership's table in the coming days. Few things can blunt momentum for a new Congressional term like your number three being exposed as a panderer to racists, after all. And the question of whether Scalise holds any of these sorts of views himself, the sort that basically all fair-minded people consider reprehensible, can't be avoided now. After all, this isn't the only time his record on race looks deeply troubling — as Ryan Grim of Huffington Post tweeted, Scalise was one of only six Louisiana reps to vote against establishing Martin Luther King, Jr. day back in 2004.
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