The incoming Republican majority whip in the House spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002. He claims now that he had no idea who David Duke was at the time, but really dug his “conservative” views.
“I literally defeated the Republican sitting governor of that state,” said Duke, referring to the 1991 race in which he forced a runoff against Democratic candidate Edwin Edwards. “I had a huge amount of Republican support.”
Duke’s 1991 campaign had already made the former Ku Klux Klan leader a pariah in the rest of the country. He ultimately lost the gubernatorial race to Edwards, but many observers noted that he won a majority of the state’s white voters. Duke claimed Monday that within Louisiana, he was still well respected. As late as 2000, he pointed out, he sat on his local district’s Republican Party executive committee.
At the time, Duke had spent two years abroad after federal agents raided his home as part of an investigation into mail fraud and tax charges. He spoke to the 2002 conference via a teleconference link from Russia, so he is not sure whether Scalise would have heard his speech, which referenced his conspiracy theory about how “Israeli treachery” was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
That sounds reasonable. Why, just the other day – on Christmas Eve – one of the guys who claimed to have been instrumental in inviting the “Tea Party Express” PAC party bus to Buffalo sent this:
Anyhow, if you’re a Republican in Louisiana and you want to pretend you don’t know that David Duke is a racist, hatemongering, neo-Confederate, then you’re being willfully ignorant. But Mr. Scalise isn’t like that, right? He’s a pretty reasonable guy, right?
Scalise’s own message has not always been one of inclusion. Months after criticizing Duke, he was one of six state representatives who voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday. He had also voted against a similar bill in 1999.
Also in 1999, Scalise told Roll Call that he was more electable than David Duke. What made Duke so unelectable?
Twelve years ago, Scalise spoke at a two-day conference hosted by the Duke-founded European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which is recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Monday, he told NOLA.com, “I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”
So many dog-whistles, so little self-awareness.