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Tags: Steve Scalise | speaking | event | not | EURO

Report: Scalise Might Not Have Addressed White Supremacists

By    |   Wednesday, 31 December 2014 06:11 PM EST

A high-ranking House Republican under fire after he admitted to speaking at a racist event in 2002 as a state legislator might have confessed to a sin he didn't commit, Slate reports.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana actually addressed a local civic association that was allowed to use the same hotel conference room on the same day, but had no connection other than location to the controversial gathering, according to two self-described eyewitnesses interviewed by Slate.

House Speaker John Boehner is so far standing by Scalise, the No. 3 person in the caucus as Majority Whip, but some conservative pundits and strategists say the party can't afford a racially charged scandal as it attempts to connect with minority voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Yet it's possible that Scalise misremembered the whole affair and "ineptly admitted to speaking at a supremacist event that eyewitnesses say he never attended," Slate reports.

Scalise spoke to the Jefferson Heights Civic Association, a citizens group, before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) conference had even started, according to Kenny Knight, who told Slate he booked EURO into the Landmark Best Western Hotel in Metairie, near New Orleans.

Knight, an associate of well-known white supremacist and former Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke, said he loaned the room to the civic association and to local officials including Scalise — who he knew from state politics — as a courtesy.

"He spoke early in the day to a contingent of people, prior to the conference kicking off," Knight told Slate. "He was not there as a guest speaker at the conference."

A girlfriend of Knight's in 2002, Barbara Noble, told Slate she also attended the conference and remembers Scalise briefly talking early that morning to people in a conference room that had no markings or banners for the EURO convention.

The Southern Poverty law Center designated EURO at the time as a racist hate group, although Knight disputed that label.

"EURO was not a white supremacist organization," he told Slate. "The people that came [to the conference] were middle-aged, taxpaying, God-fearing, Christian people."

Scalise's office issued a statement on Monday confirming that he spoke at the event, after the allegation surfaced on a liberal political blog in his home state, but that he was unaware of the conference's ideology.

The statement explained that Scalise had been traveling and speaking widely as part of a campaign 12 years ago against excessive state spending, and that he was not focused on the affiliations of any one group he addressed.

"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," the statement read.

Current and former colleagues, including some Democrats, have defended Scalise and said he is not a racist.


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Politics
A high-ranking House Republican under fire after he admitted to speaking at a racist event in 2002 as a state legislator might have confessed to a sin he didn't commit, Slate reports. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana actually addressed a local civic association that was...
Steve Scalise, speaking, event, not, EURO
477
2014-11-31
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 06:11 PM
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