House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) says he did speak at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) in 2002, but he says he didn’t know at the time the group’s affiliation with racists and neo-Nazi activists. EURO was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. A copy of Scalise’s speech would help to determine if he knew his audience. It would also be helpful to know if he stayed to listen to the other speakers, who undoubtedly addressed the organization’s concerns.
As Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas says: “It’s hard to believe, given David Duke’s reputation in Louisiana, that somebody in politics in Louisiana wasn’t aware of Duke’s associations with the group and what they stand for.” But let’s just say for a minute that Scalise didn’t. Scalise says “he had only one person working for him at the time.” And “When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go,” he said. “If I knew today what they were about, I wouldn’t go.” So, what’s worse? His knowing or not knowing? President Reagan told the nation in 1987 that he “didn’t know about any diversion of funds to the [Nicaraguan] contras?” Reagan said “no one kept proper records of meetings or decisions. This led to my failure to recollect whether I approved an arms shipment before or after the fact. I did approve it; I just can’t say specifically when.” And the “didn’t know” dilemma strikes both parties, of course. Bill Clinton didn’t even know he had sexual relations with “that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”