It came to light yesterday that Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 3 House Republican, gave a lecture in 2002 to a group of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The group, called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), was founded by David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a fringe Louisiana politician.
The congressman claims he was entirely unaware of the affiliation, though Duke says otherwise: “Scalise would communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight,” he told the Washington Post this morning. “That is why he was invited and why he would come.”
But that is not Scalise’s only affiliation with a noted hate group. He is also a regular on Tony Perkins’ radio show, Washington Watch With Tony Perkins. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center condemns as virulently anti-LGBT. According to the SPLC, the Council “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”
Perkins, also from Louisiana, has connections to Duke as well. In the mid-’90s, while acting as a campaign manager for Woody Jenkins, then a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he paid $82,500 for Duke’s mailing list. Like Scalise, he improbably claimed he didn’t know the list was attached to Duke, but happened to file a false campaign disclosure form to hide the payment, and was subsequently fined $3,000. Three years later, while serving as a state representative, he gave a speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens, another white supremacist group.
While plenty of Republicans are against same-sex marriage, most don’t go so far as to ally themselves with Perkins. For the House majority whip to have that kind of allegiance may turn some heads.