The campaign manager of Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' House sets up Senate shutdown showdown GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots MORE’s first Democratic congressional opponent tipped off a liberal blogger to the House GOP whip’s controversial 2002 appearance before white supremacist group, according to Reuters.
Democrat Gilda Reed, who lost by more than 50 percentage points to Scalise in a 2008 special election to fill an open House seat in Louisiana, tells the news service that she didn’t reveal her knowledge that Scalise spoke at event hosted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
“I felt strongly that it would not have walked. I was running in a district with a lot of bigots,” Reed told Reuters.
Her son and then-campaign manager, Robert Reed, decided to reach out to blogger Lamar White Jr. several weeks ago with the information of Scalise’s appearance, because the Pelican State lawmaker had taken on a high-profile position within the House leadership, Reuters reported.
Since Sunday’s reporting on the 2002 speaking engagement, House GOP leaders have rallied behind Scalise, who has apologized for speaking to the white supremacist group and professed his ignorance of EURO’s ideology.
He also drawn support from a fellow Louisiana lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond. "I don't think Steve Scalise has a racist bone in his body,” the African-American lawmaker told The Times Picayune in New Orleans.
But other Democrats have been highly critical of the House majority whip. One lawmaker, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), has called for him to resign his post on the GOP leadership team.
“I think he knew exactly what he was doing,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said on MSNBC Thursday. “Clearly most of the Republican party now are from the South the old Dixiecrats — the extension of the Confederates.”
Rangel, one of the original co-founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he would not challenge Richmond’s contention that Scalise is not a racist.
“I don’t challenge that — it’s just that politicians do what they think is important to get elected and reelected, and I guess the ... best you can look at this is that he knew who he was talking to, he knew he wanted their supports, and he still managed to keep black friends,” Rangel said.