WASHINGTON -- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., spoke at a white supremacist conference in 2002, according to postings on a message board at that time that were discovered by a Louisiana blogger this month. The event was organized by the infamous KKK leader David Duke, who despite failed bid for governor and U.S. Senate remained a prominent politician in the state of Louisiana.
A spokeswoman for the Louisiana congressman told Politico that he did not know whether he had addressed the group.
“He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question,” spokeswoman Moira Smith said in a statement. “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.”
But his office didn't refute the possibility that he was there.
"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," Smith said. "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."
A user on a message forum called Stormfront, whose slogan is “White Pride World Wide,” posted in 2002 that Scalise had been a speaker at a conference of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center named the organization a hate group. The group was founded by Duke, the former Louisiana legislator who was known for trying to transform the KKK from an organization known for white robes and hoods to one where the members wore ties and ran for office. Requests to Duke to confirm whether Scalise spoke through his website were not answered.
The user, who posted under the name “Alsace Hebert,” wrote that Scalise, then a state representative in Louisiana, had addressed the conference. Hebert wrote thousands of posts on the racist message board.
“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,” the user wrote in an entry dated May 21, 2002. “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.”
The message board has archives dating back to 2001 and is still in use today. The same user, who has not posted on the site since 2009, wrote in another post on Feb. 2, 2004, that he would be encouraged to see Scalise run for Congress.
“It was just announced that Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, will enter the race in the 1st Congressional District,” the post stated. “Those that attended the EURO conference in New Orleans will recall that Scalise was a speaker, offering his support for issues that are of concern to us.”
The conference was held at a hotel in Metairie, La., which is part of Scalise's district. Organizers and attendees on the Stormfront message board described it as an opportunity to discuss issues that are facing pro-white groups.
Ultimately, Scalise didn’t run in 2004. He was elected to Congress in 2008 after Gov. Bobby Jindal vacated the seat. Scalise became the House majority whip earlier this year when former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor resigned after losing renomination in the Virginia primary. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California moved from whip to majority leader. Scalise, who had previously served as the Republican Study Committee chairman, a spot once viewed as the top conservative in the House, was elected whip.
Updated: This article has been updated to include a response from Scalise's spokeswoman Moira Smith.