News · Press Release

Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin Leaps to Steve Scalise’s Defense

Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin lept to the defense of House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and the entire Republican Party after the bombshell news that Scalise chose to speak at a white supremacist rally organized by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. Zeldin was so loyal to his party boss that he tried to defend Scalise and claimed it would not do any damage to his beloved Republican Party.

But, Scalise has faced withering criticism since the news broke:

  • Boston Herald Editorial Board: Scalise “shouldn’t keep that position as long as questions swirl about his 2002 address to a gathering organized by David Duke, who ran as a racist candidate for governor of Louisiana in 1991 and for other offices at other times. The revelations can only hurt the party if he stays.” [Boston Herald, 1/04/15]
  • Chicago Tribune Editorial Board: “It’s pretty clear that Scalise saw some potential political benefit from hobnobbing with a crowd of hard-core bigots. […]. By playing footsie with this group, Scalise has disqualified himself from a position of leadership in a party that needs to do a better job of understanding and addressing the suspicions it arouses among many minority Americans.” [Chicago Tribune, 12/31/14]
  • Peter Wehner, a former advisor to President George W. Bush. “This is acidic for the Republican Party…I just think it is an untenable position to have a person in the leadership of the Republican Party in the House who has spoken to a white supremacist group.” [New York Times, 12/31/14]
  • Stacy Burdett, the Anti-Defamation League director of government and national affairs: “The public is right to want to know why a candidate for office, or any political leader, might have attended a meeting of David Dukes organization.” [Times Picayune, 12/31/14]
  • Charles Krauthammer: “Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers on Tuesday’s ‘Special Report with Bret Baier’ that Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana should have offered to step down from his newly elected GOP leadership role after admitting he spoke before a white supremacist group 12 years ago.” [Fox News, 12/30/14]

Congressman-elect Zeldin made the mind-blowing choice to back Republican leaders and stand arm-and-arm with Scalise. Scalise’s ally David Duke has attacked “Zionists” as responsible for this negative story and the Anti-Defamation League says Duke is anti-semetic and that Scalise had legitimized Duke’s views by speaking there.

“Congressman-elect Zeldin failed one of the first tests for the voters of Long Island,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Congressman-elect Zeldin chose to relentlessly defend his leader who trolls for votes at anti-Semitic white supremacist rallies. If Zeldin chooses to side with Scalise and David Duke, he’s not standing up for the families of Long Island.”


David Duke: “Zionist” Press Responsible for Negative Portrayal of Positions and Group. “Scalise, the House Majority whip, has come under fire after reports emerged he had spoken before the conference in 2002. Duke’s group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, has been described as a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a characterization Duke rejects. […] ‘I’ve grown up. And I understand who the real racists are,’ Duke said in a phone interview on Monday, saying a ‘zionist’ and ‘tribalist’ mentality throughout the press and media was mostly to blame for the negative portrayal of him.” [, 12/30/14]

David Duke Criticized “Racist Jewish” Control Over History, Started Career Wearing Swastika Armbands and Giving Pro-Nazi Speeches. “As Duke told it, he simply became aware of the ‘unfairness’ of what he calls ‘racist Jewish’ control over history. He talked animatedly and at length on the subject, ranging from the Soviet Gulags to Hollywood, both of which he ascribed to Jewish control. […] As a student at Louisiana State University in the 1960s, with the civil rights movement swirling around him, Duke became infamous on campus for wearing swastika armbands and giving pro-Nazi speeches. When the civil rights activist William Kunstler gave a speech at Tulane University in New Orleans, Duke attended in a Nazi uniform.” [The Guardian, 12/31/14]

Anti-Defamation League: David Duke “Promotes Anti-Semitic and White Supremacist Views.” “David Duke, perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite, promotes anti-Semitic and white supremacist views as the leader of the white supremacist European American Unity and Rights Organization […]Duke continues to write articles and books, to convene conferences, and to speak publicly for the purposes of demonizing Jews and other minorities.” [Anti-Defamation League, accessed 1/04/15]

ADL Spokesperson: Rep. Scalise “Legitimized” Duke’s Views. “In an interview with me, Stacy Burdett, the ADL’s Government and National Affairs Director, said that Scalise, unintentionally or not, had ‘legitimized’ Duke’s ‘hate and bigotry.’ […] ‘By standing on their platform, whether he intended to or not, he potentially sent a message that he endorsed their views,’ Burdett told me.” [Washington Post, 12/31/14]

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