U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise said he was unfamiliar with the group he addressed in 2002 that held an event led by a David Duke-led white nationalist group.
"Basically a group called and asked me to go speak. I would go and talk to them about my plans to oppose the Stelly Plan, and also I was working on eliminating slush funds," Scalise told WWL-TV. "I spoke to groups. I'm not familiar with who that group was. From what I've seen about them, they don't represent the values that I represent. I detest hate groups of any kind.
"I work with people of all races, of all colors and try to help people whether they voted for me or not. I've got a long record of doing that that I'm proud of."
Questioned Monday about the congressman’s appearance before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, Scalise spokeswoman Moira Bagley Smith issued a statement denouncing the group’s white supremacist views.
“Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints,” Bagley Smith said in the statement, which was also released to national media outlets. “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,” she added.
Allegations that Scalise, currently the U.S. House majority whip, spoke at EURO’s conference in 2002 first surfaced on a left-leaning blog over the weekend. The CenLamar.com blog cited postings on neo-Nazi and white nationalist message board Stormfront to back up its claim but did not include comment or confirmation from Scalise.