Majority Whip Steve Scalise's office acknowledged Monday that the Louisiana Republican did, most likely, speak at a white supremacist conference in 2002. Following reports that Scalise had addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization — designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center — Scalise's communications director, Moira Smith, released the following statement:
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.According to the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, as uncovered by Huffington Post, a commenter wrote that Scalise, who was a state representative at the time, "discussed ways to oversee gross mismanagement of tax revenue or 'slush funds' that have little or no accountability."
His office noted that in 2002, Scalise was indeed going across Louisiana fighting a proposed tax increase and what he called a "slush fund."
"He was speaking to literally anyone who would listen," an aide from his office said.
While Scalise's office said the majority whip doesn't remember speaking to this group and that they do not have any record of his agenda from that time period — Scalise only had one staffer at the time — they said "it would be dishonest of us to deny that he gave this speech."
"It's probable that he did speak to this group," the aide said, "not with the intention or advance knowledge of that this was a white supremacist group."
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