Why it is important that Steve Scalise step down as Majority Whip

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The news has broken that once and future GOP Whip, Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, spoke at conference hosted by the group founded by Louisiana politician and egregious racist David Duke:

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise spoke to a gathering of white nationalists in 2002, his office confirmed on Monday.

Mr. Scalise, then a Louisiana state legislator, spoke to a suburban New Orleans conference of an organization founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. His spokeswoman said Monday that the third-ranking House Republican, who was elected to a fourth full term last month, was at the time campaigning against a state ballot initiative and didn’t know who was in every group to whom he spoke.

There are two parts to the controversy. Did Scalise know who he was speaking to? Does it matter?

Did he know who he was talking to?

Louisiana isn’t a big state. State legislative districts aren’t particularly large. In Mr. Scalise’s case, when he spoke to this group he’d been serving in the Louisiana legislature since 1996. David Duke and his operation were not obscure. In 1991, Duke won the GOP gubernatorial nomination and faced known felon Edwin Edwards in the general election. This resulted in former governor Buddy Roemer who had campaigned, unsuccessfully, on the slogan “Anyone but Edwards” deciding that “Anyone” did not extend to a former KKK Grand Dragon.

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became a national sensation.

For Mr. Scalise to creditably claim he was unaware of the nature of the group we all have to be idiots.

Duke said Scalise was invited to the conf. by two of his longtime associates, Howie Farrell and Kenny Knight

— Robert Costa (@costareports) December 30, 2014

Keep in mind that Howie Farrell had been David Duke’s campaign manager and Kenny Knight was Duke’s “political advisor.” From the Washington Post:

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said late Monday that his longtime political adviser, Kenny Knight, was “friendly” with House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Steve Scalise76%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard76% (R-La.) in 2002, and cited that relationship as the reason Scalise accepted an invitation that year to speak at a gathering of white supremacists.

“Scalise would communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight,” Duke said in a phone interview. “That is why he was invited and why he would come. Kenny knew Scalise, Scalise knew Kenny. …read more    

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