The third-ranking House Republican has admitted that he addressed a gathering of white supremacists in 2002—but House Majority Whip Steve Scalise says he didn't know the group's beliefs and it is "insulting and ludicrous" to suggest he shared them, the Hill reports. Scalise, who was a Louisiana state lawmaker at the time, tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he "spoke to any group that called" about his opposition to government spending. An aide says Scalise has spoken to "hundreds of different groups" and is in no way "affiliated with the abhorrent group in question."
"I detest these kinds of views," Scalise says of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization founded by former KKK leader David Duke. "As a Catholic, I think some of the things they profess target people like me. A lot of their views run contradictory to the way I run my life." Louisiana politicians, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, have defended Scalise, saying they're confident he is not a racist, reports CNN. But Democrats—and some conservatives—say Scalise still has questions to answer, Politico reports. "If someone in Louisiana didn't know about David Duke's beliefs in 2002, they must have been hiding under a very large rock somewhere," says the executive director of the state Democratic Party.