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Monday, December 29, 2014

Scalise seems to acknowledge he spoke to white supremacist conference in Metairie in 2002

Posted By on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 4:48 PM

click to enlarge The May 7, 2002 edition of Gambit carried information about the white-supremacist meeting held in Metairie at the Best Western Landmark Hotel. After Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. reported this weekend that Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, was in attendance and spoke to the group, Scalise's office put out a statement that seemed to acknowledge the fact, but insisted Scalise had "never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question."
  • The May 7, 2002 edition of Gambit carried information about the white-supremacist meeting held in Metairie at the Best Western Landmark Hotel. After Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. reported this weekend that Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, was in attendance and spoke to the group, Scalise's office put out a statement that seemed to acknowledge the fact, but insisted Scalise had "never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question."

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie — the newly minted Majority Whip and the third highest-ranking Republican in Congress — seemed to confirm to The Washington Post today that he spoke to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a white supremacist organization, in 2002.

In a statement, Scalise aide Moira Bagley Smith wrote, "He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question":
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.
The news of Scalise's 2002 speech was first broken over the weekend by Lamar White Jr., whose CenLamar website covers Louisiana politics. 

EURO was founded by former State Rep. and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who was president of the organization at the time the conference was held.

Radio talk show host Jeff Crouere, then a writer for Gambit, covered the controversy around the EURO meeting at the time:
After first planning an international convention for the weekend of May 17 in Metairie, the controversial group European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) has scaled down their plans. Now, EURO is planning a workshop for 50 national leaders at the Best Western Landmark Hotel.
The meeting will now be closed to the public, and all participants will have to be members of EURO and local organizers. All attendees will have to pay a fee. The EURO workshop will be held simultaneously with the International Conference on Human Rights in Italy, conducted by EURO president David Duke. Duke, a former Klan leader and Louisiana state representative, will address the Metairie group via telephone conference call, instead of the original plan for a video teleconference.
Crouere also reported that the Iowa Cubs, a Triple-A minor league baseball team that was coming to town that weekend to play the New Orleans Zephyrs, had reservations at the Best Western Landmark Hotel, but changed their plans after word of the EURO meeting got out.

White's story included a link to Stormfront, a message board for white nationalists. In a May 21, 2002 posting, Stormfront user "Alsace Hebert" wrote of the gathering:
EURO’s recent national convention held in the greater New Orleans area was a convergence of ideas represented by Americans from diverse geographical regions like California, Texas, New Jersey and the Carolina’s. This indicates that concerns held are pervasive in every sovereign state and Republic alike, within an increasingly diminishing view of where America stands on individual liberty for whites.

In addition to plans to implement tactical strategies that were discussed, the meeting was productive locally as State Representative, Steve Scalise, discussed ways to oversee gross mismanagement of tax revenue or “slush funds” that have little or no accountability. Representative Scalise brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft within the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race. 
An unnamed aide from Scalise's office told Roll Call Scalise was fighting a tax increase:
“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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