Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, the House majority whip, has admitted to the Washington Post that he addressed a white supremacist organization in 2002, before he was elected to Congress.
At the time, Scalise was a Louisiana state representative, and he appeared before a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Blogger Lamar White Jr., who writes about Louisiana state politics, was the first to report the speech, which took place at an "all-day training workshop designed to teach the most effective and up-to-date methods of civil rights and heritage related activism" in Metairie, Louisiana, according to promotional material found by White. The material also said that Duke would be holding a EURO conference in Europe at the same time and would address both the Metairie and the Europe events at the same time, by teleconference.
In a statement, Scalise's spokesperson Moira Bagley said Scalise "was unaware at the time of the group's ideology and its association with racists and neo-Nazi activists," according to the Washington Post.
The Post goes on to say that other Scalise allies said that Scalise "was poorly staffed during the period, when he was busy touring the state promoting his efforts to curb state spending."
Though no record remains of his 2002 speech to the group, Scalise reportedly spoke to the group about "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." At the time, Bagley said Scalise was making himself available to anyone who would hear him on the topic.
Bagley also said to the Post that Scalise "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."