State Sen. Elbert Guillory, a prominent black Republican in Louisiana, is defending House Majority Whip Steve Scalise amid revelations that he spoke at an event founded by white nationalist David Duke more than a dozen years ago.
Speaking to The Daily Caller on Wednesday, Guillory took aim at those who are arguing Scalise’s 2002 speech before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization means the House Republican should step down from his leadership position.
“It is a desperate attempt to create something that does not exist,” Guillory said of the media frenzy. “Just look at the man’s record. Judge him by his record, not by who he meets, for God’s sake. That’s ludicrous.”
On Tuesday, Scalise acknowledged that as a state representative, he spoke to the group founded by Duke while traveling around the state to push his political agenda, but called it a “mistake I regret.” A liberal blog in Louisiana first revealed his participation in the event over the weekend.
“I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold,” Scalise said. “I am very disappointed that anyone would try to infer otherwise for political gain.”
Speaking by phone, Guillory acknowledged that he and Scalise are friends, and defended his actions in 2002.
“Setting aside my personal relationship, which is a very good and longtime relationship, looking at what we do, Steve’s a politician. And politicians have an obligation to meet with all the people that we represent,” Guillory said.
“Steve is a leader,” he said. “Leaders have an obligation to communicate. If we just talked to people who agree with us, we’d be talking to a tiny circle of people.”
“I judge Steve by his voting record, which over many years in public service is a stellar voting record,” Guillory added. “He represents all of the people of Louisiana in an excellent fashion.”
Guillory also referenced Scalise’s religion, while noting that David Duke was once the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Anyone who is familiar with the Klan knows that Catholics are not a favorite group of the Klan, and Steve is a devout Catholic,” he said. “So this is someone trying very desperately to find some news where there really isn’t any.”