One Of DC's Most influential
The House majority whip, Congressman Steve Scalise, is facing questions about allegations that he was a featured speaker at a conference by EURO, an international hate group, in Louisiana in 2002. In his third term, Mr. Scalise, 49, represents Louisiana's 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives and was elected this summer to one the highest political positions on Capitol Hill. As majority whip, Congressman Scalise is the chief political leader charged to coordinate with House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on legislation. Congressman Scalise also presides over the influential Republican Study Committee, a caucus that advises on political and legislative policy for the party.
Hate Group Conference
In newly uncovered documents and Internet postings it is alleged that Scalise, while a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2002, spoke at an international conference of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization headed by Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke. Duke appeared at the conference via video link from a companion conference being held simultaneously in Europe. The group asserted that European American whites were under attack and needed a "civil rights" group of their own to combat "genocide." Duke at the time was a very well-known bigot in Louisiana, particularly in the state's political arena. EURO was also widely known as a hate group, having been designated as such by such groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center and ADL.
David Duke: One of the Most Influential Hatemongers
Duke, who first made himself known as a hatemonger wearing a swastika-emblazoned Nazi uniform during his protest days at LSU and later Klan robes and hoods as a Grand Wizard in the Klan, has been a key leader in mainstreaming hate into American politics. After exchanging his robes for a business suit and downplaying his earlier hate forays as youthful indiscretions, he achieved limited political success in his home state of Louisiana after founding another hate group, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, and embarking in dog-whistle politics in public. He later unsuccessfully ran for president, senator and governor, where he won the majority of the white vote, and briefly served in the Louisiana House of Representatives, before being convicted of tax fraud. Duke has promoted ideas of black racial inferiority, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and segregation.
No Recording, But References
No recording is available of exactly what Scalise said at the white nationalist gathering, if he was there at all, but there were various complimentary references to it on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. Founded by federal felon and white supremacist Don Black in the mid 1990s, Stormfront was the first hate site on the web and is known for its discussion boards, newlinks, and event promotion. One Stormfront poster allegedly wrote:
In addition to plans to implement tactical strategies that were discussed, the meeting was productive locally as State Representative, Steve Scalise, discussed ways to oversee gross mismanagement of tax revenue or "slush funds" that have little or no accountability.
Representative Scalise brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft within the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race.
In other subsequent posts he was recommended in his congressional bid because of statements he allegedly made at the conference "for offering support on issues that are of concern to us."
Not the First Politician to Face Controversy
In recent years mainstream politicians survived embarrassing racial missteps. Trent Lott continued in the Senate, but abdicated his role as Senate majority leader after complimenting Strom Thurmond's 1948 Segregationist presidential campaign. Ron Paul distanced himself from some 1990s Ron Paul newsletters with racist statements. Even President Obama was forced to condemn his one-time preacher Jeremiah Wright, but used the controversy as a springboard for greater dialogue on racial issues. How Scalise handles this current controversy remains to be seen, but if it's not washed over by other political distractions, it could be potentially important to a party that seeks to make inroads with African-Americans and Latinos in coming elections.