U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise sees strong showing in fundraising despite controversy surrounding speech to white supremacy group _lowres

House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Washington. Scalise is facing a test of his vote-wrangling skills as the chamber votes on the Republican budget proposal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Washington – U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., took in $1.5 million in political conbtributions in the first three months of 2015, a strong showing that suggests his fundraising has suffered little if at all from the controversy over his speech to white supremacists in 2002.

Scalise, of Jefferson, was elected to Congress in 2008 and chosen as whip in June by his fellow Republicans in the House majority. The whip ranks No. 3 in the leadership hierarchy, after the speaker and the majority leader, and raising money to benefit other Republican candidates is an important, if unofficial, aspect of the job.

Scalise has not filed his first-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, due April 15. His haul for the period was confirmed by Tyler Daniel, his political director.

The amount represents the total flowing to Scalise’s three fundraising vehicles: His campaign committee, his leadership PAC and his joint fundraising committee, according to Daniel.

Scalise’s selection as whip boosted his fundraising in the second half of 2014. But in late December, reports surfaced that he had adressed members of a white supremacist group founded by neo-Nazi David Duke in Metairie in 2002, while Scalise was a state representative. That prompted criticism of Scalise by Democrats and even some Republicans, but he was supported by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Scalise has characterized the speech as a mistake, and said he is opposed to bigotry.