A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's (R-La.) admission that he once spoke at a White nationalists convention "deeply troubling," but she isn't calling on him to relinquish his leadership position.
Scalise confirmed through an aide Monday that he once appeared at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO. But the aide said the congressman didn’t know at the time about the group’s affiliation with racists and neo-Nazi activists.
In a statement, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill called Scalise's admission "deeply troubling for a top Republican leader in the House."
"However, actions speak louder than whatever Steve Scalise said to that group in 2002," he added. "Just this year, House Republicans have refused to restore the Voting Rights Act or pass comprehensive immigration reform and leading Republican members are now actively supporting in the federal courts efforts by another known extremist group, the American Center for Law and Justice, which is seeking to overturn the President’s immigration executive actions. Speaker Boehner’s silence on this matter is yet another example of his consistent failure to stand up to the most extreme elements of his party."
Aides to Pelosi noted that a handful of GOP lawmakers, including Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) are planning to join a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law & Justice and another group, the Committee to Defend the Separation of Powers. The groups argue that President Obama's executive actions on immigration are unconstitutional and that only Congress has the authority to set immigration policy.
Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has not yet commented publicly on Scalise's admissions, but his office is closely tracking developments. Other top Republicans also have remained silent since the news first broke on a Louisiana political blog on Sunday.
The House Democratic campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, on Tuesday blasted Scalise for choosing to "cheerlead for a group of KKK members and neo-Nazis at a white supremacist rally." The group also faulted Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for "refusing to condemn Scalise’s choice of allies." It added later that "Republicans are off to a banner start for their new Congress – on the path to break their own record for least popular Congress in history."