Duke calls Scalise a “sellout” for apologizing for 2002 speech to racist group
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
“This guy is a sellout,” Duke told Baton Rouge radio host Jim Engster January 28. “Why in the world would he apologize?”
Duke said Scalise was “basically condemning the people of his district who voted overwhelmingly for me to be their U.S. senator and voted (me) to be their governor.” He also said Scalise should resign from Congress because “he has betrayed his people.”
Scalise represents Louisiana’s 1st District in Congress, which includes suburban New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish that Duke represented in the Louisiana House form 1989 to 1992.
Scalise’s purported 2002 appearance before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization at a hotel in Metairie was first reported by liberal blogger Lamar White, Jr., who attributed the allegation to Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site.
Scalise had initially said he did not remember speaking to the group and had no records indicating whether he had. However, he later conceded that he had spoken to the group but described his appearance as a “mistake.”
Scalise said the address to EURO was one of a number of speeches he gave to groups in opposition to a ballot initiative that shifted Louisiana’s tax base from sales to income taxes, and he did not endorse its racist ideology.
Despite blistering criticism from Democrats, the House Republican leadership stood behind Scalise, and he remained whip, the No. 3 position in the House.
Duke, 64, a former Nazi and KKK member, remade himself as less confrontational, far-right Republican in the 1980s and won a seat in the Louisiana House in 1989. In 1991, he ran for governor, advancing to a runoff before being defeated by Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards. In 1996, he polled nearly 12 percent of the vote in a U.S. Senate race but failed to make the runoff.
In late 2002 — after Scalise’s purported appearance in front of his group — Duke pleaded guilty to tax and mail fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
As a convicted felon, Duke is barred from seeking state office. But federal law does not bar convicted felons from running for Congress