This is an update to an earlier post calling on Steve Scalise to resign as House Majority Whip.
There have been a lot of Republicans overly eager to defend Steve Scalise based on a follow-up story that came from the Times-Picayune.
David Duke’s former campaign manager, Kenny Knight, says Scalise did not speak before EURO. Instead, Scalise spoke before a local civic group. Knight had booked a conference room for EURO, and since it wasn’t starting until late in the day, he held the civic association meeting in EURO’s room earlier in the day. That’s when Scalise spoke. There were EURO members in the room because they showed up early.
This alibi can only be considered too clever by half.
Knight also claimed he was not involved with EURO. He had only booked the room as a favor to Duke. The Times-Picayune later discovered that, in fact, Knight was the treasurer of the organization’s predecessor just two years prior, and Knight was a speaker at the 2002 conference, which is where Scalise also may have spoken.
Knight, a political operative and donor to Scalise’s 2008 congressional campaign, may not be the best source here. This might be the one instance ever where it is actually relevant to consider David Duke’s recollection. In an interview with the Washington Post, Duke recalled Scalise accepting the invitation to speak and the close relationship between Knight and Scalise.
It’s quite likely we will never know whether Scalise actually spoke at the EURO conference. But we do know that he takes political advice and money from Kenny Knight. This is conduct unbecoming of a House Majority Whip.
A number of Republicans have resorted to noting that Democrats stood by the late Senator Robert Byrd even though he was a former KKK member. Others have somehow found it relevant to return to discussing Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Let’s hope that Republicans can find a better defense than: “But Democrats are worse.”
Republicans must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
I do not know Scalise personally, but those who do say he is not a racist. He is a man of integrity owing to a strong faith. But this does not change the fact that mistakes were made in his association with Knight and that questions will remain over whether Scalise spoke to EURO.
Scalise is now a flawed messenger, and that makes him unable to fulfill his role within Republican leadership.