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House GOP whip Steve Scalise spoke to a racist group in 2002

Steve Scalise
Steve Scalise
Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Group / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.
  1. A spokesperson for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) acknowledged that Scalise likely spoke at a 2002 gathering of white nationalist leaders, in a statement to the Washington Post's Robert Costa on Monday.
  2. The organization in question is called EURO, which stands for European-American Unity and Rights Organization, and it was originally founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana politician David Duke. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as a hate group.
  3. Scalise's apparent attendance at a May 2002 EURO "workshop on civil rights" in Metairie, Louisiana was first reported by blogger Lamar White, Jr. White uncovered posts on the racist website Stormfront from a conference attendee who mentioned that Scalise attended and spoke.
  4. At the time of the conference, Scalise was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was elected to Congress in 2008, and was elected House Majority Whip in August 2014.
  5. Scalise's spokesperson told the Post's Robert Costa that Scalise did not then know about EURO's "hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance." It is not yet known whether the House Republican leadership will respond.

The Trent Lott comparison

Erick Erickson, an influential conservative writer and activist, posted a reaction item titled "How do you show up at a David Duke event and not know what it is?" that draws an explicit comparison between this Scalise incident and the racial controversies that drove former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott out of the Senate leadership back in 2002. Erickson says the comparison does not reflect well on Scalise, and "Lott was driven from the field in 2001 for something less than this."

Scalise's history on race

EURO aside, Scalise does not have a record of friendliness to African-American causes. When the Louisiana House voted on making Martin Luther King Day a holiday in 2004, 90 members were in favor and Scalise was one of the six against.

In 1999, Scalise slammed David Duke's lack of electability

Little Green Footballs unearthed an interesting 1999 Roll Call article in which Scalise commented on David Duke's quest for a congressional seat, and seemed primarily concerned with Duke's electability:

Another potential candidate, state Rep. Steve Scalise (R), said he embraces many of the same "conservative" views as Duke, but is far more viable.

"The novelty of David Duke has worn off," said Scalise. "The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can't get elected, and that's the first and most important thing."