Former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Louisiana State Rep. David Duke told Fusion yesterday that two of his top associates had invited then-state Rep. Steve Scalise (R) to a conference for one of his white supremacist groups in 2002.
Reports came out this week that Scalise, who is now the US House Majority Whip, had spoken at a European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a “hate group.”
“Duke [said] he has met with Scalise several times, along with other members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation,” Fusion reported. “He believes two close associates — Howie Farrell and Kenny Knight — invited Scalise to speak at the conference.”
Duke told Fusion that he “rejected claims he was a ‘racist’ or ‘white supremacist,’” and described the “political sanctimony stirring against him [as] ‘all bullshit.’”
“I’ve grown up. And I understand who the real racists are,” Duke said in the interview, also saying a “‘zionist’ and ‘tribal’ mentality throughout the press and media was mostly to blame for the negative portrayal of him.”
Scalise told the Times-Picayune earlier this week that he “detests any kind of hate group,” and “doesn’t remember speaking at the 2002 event in question.” Duke, however, said he wasn’t “disappointed” by Scalise’s attempt to distance himself from EURO. The ex-Klan leader told Fusion he was only disappointed in the positions Scalise has on issues like Israel.
What Duke found most confounding is the focus on Scalise in particular.
“Why is Scalise being singled out? I don’t know,” Duke said. He went on to say that he has “hosted both Democratic and Republican legislators at everything from conferences to his children’s birthday parties. He said he has met with Democratic legislators at least 50 times in his political life.”
Duke did have a warning for those Republicans who would see Scalise “crucified,” though.
“[If] Republicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the woods, then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders,” Duke told Fusion, saying that he would be “inclined to release a list of names of all the politicians – both Republicans and Democrats – with whom he has ties.”
Despite his abhorrent views, Duke could actually do some good in this situation. He should start naming names. Voters deserve to know whether the politicians, regardless of their party, elected to represent them associate with and support these types of hate groups. Politicians like this need to be flushed out of the system as soon as possible.