CBC leader: Investigate Scalise speech

A member of the Congressional Black Caucus leadership said Monday that Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election MORE (R-Ohio) should conduct an investigation into reports that House Majority Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke at a white supremacist event in 2002.

“It is quite disappointing to learn that in the Twenty-First Century, a member of the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has, in the past and prior to his election to Congress, addressed a white nationalist organization with a history of hostility towards civil rights for people of color, particularly African-Americans, as well as members of the Jewish faith and immigrants,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

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“It is my hope that Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election MORE will do a thorough investigation into the circumstances involved in Congressman Scalise's participation with the organization and reassure all members that his leadership has not been compromised by an affiliation with such an organization,” she said.

Clarke is the second vice chair of the CBC and one of five members to lead the group. The CBC has not issued a statement regarding the reports about Scalise’s speech.

On Sunday, the Louisiana politics blog CenLamar said that postings on a white nationalist forum indicated Scalise had spoken to a group in 2002 that had been created by notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Scalise said in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune published Monday that, during that time period, he was accepting numerous speaking invitations to discuss his opposition to a tax plan in his capacity as a state representative.

Clarke called on Scalise to denounce the group’s beliefs. His office said that the group’s ideology is a “stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic” and Scalise said the suggestion he was involved with the group was “insulting.”

Other lawmakers — including Democratic congressman and CBC member Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.) — have defended Scalise, who ascended to the whip position earlier this year following then-Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorRace for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement 2018 will test the power of political nobodies MORE's (R-Va.) primary loss.