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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
Louisiana Republican says appearance was part of a campaign against a tax referendum
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is expressing regret over a 2002 appearance before a group founded by white supremacist David Duke, saying he rejects the group’s “hateful bigotry.”
“It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold,” Scalise said in a statement released December 30. “I am very disappointed anyone would try to infer otherwise for political gain.”
Scalise’s purported appearance before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization at a hotel in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, was first reported by liberal blogger Lamar White, Jr., who attributed the allegation to Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site.
Scalise, 49, who represents a suburban New Orleans district in the House, was a state legislator at the time. He 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.
Scalise had initially said he did not remember speaking to the group and had no records indicating whether he had. However, in his latest statement, he conceded that he had spoken to the group.
The revelation of Scalise’s speech, coming just a week before Congress comes back into session, drew fire from Democrats, who called on the House GOP leadership to condemn the man they elected whip just last August.
While Boehner said Scalise made “an error in judgment,” the speaker said Scalise “was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate.”
“He has my full confidence as out whip,” Boehner said.
Democrats blasted Scalise’s original explanation, insisting that he must have known the group was affiliated with Duke, who served in the Louisiana legislature and ran for governor in 1991.
“There were media reports running up to the event that made it crystal clear who was going to be the highlight — David Duke,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, in a statement. “If someone in Louisiana didn’t know about David Duke’s beliefs in 2002, they must have been hiding under a very large rock somewhere.”
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, representing Jefferson Parish, which Scalise also represents.
In the 1991 race for governor, he advanced to a runoff, where he was defeated by Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards. 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.
Scalise is the only Southern member in the House GOP leadership
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana has been elected as House majority whip, making him the sole Southerner in the House GOP hierarchy.
The final vote total wasn’t announced, but Scalise won a majority among the 233 House Republicans on the first ballot. He will take office August 1 as the No. 3 Republican in the House.
“I’m looking forward to bringing a fresh new voice to our leadership table and joining with this team to help confront the challenges that people all across this country are facing,” Scalise said after the vote.
“We’ve got solid conservative solutions that are going to solve the problems facing our country.”
Scalise’s ascension was made possible by the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia in his June 10 GOP primary race.
Cantor resigned as majority leader, and the current majority whip, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, claimed Cantor’s spot, opening up the whip’s post for Scalise.
Despite the fact that nearly half of the 233 members of the House Republican caucus represent Southern states, Scalise is the only Southerner in the party’s leadership. Cantor had also been the only Southern leader.
Southerner members also hold nine of the 21 committee chairmanships in the House.
Scalise was elected to the House in 2008. He was previously a state legislator in Louisiana.