The Slatest

Boehner Defends Rep. Steve Scalise Against White Supremacist Charges

House Speaker John Boehner takes questions during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Dec. 11, 2014.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

John Boehner is standing by his man. On Tuesday, the House speaker released a statement supporting Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip who’s drawn criticism for unwittingly speaking to white supremacists in 2002.

“More than a decade ago, Rep. Scalise made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate,” said Boehner in the statement. “Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know Steve to be a man of high integrity and good character. He has my full confidence as our Whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans.”

The story broke on Sunday, when Louisiana blogger Lamar White reported that Scalise addressed a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. That group was founded by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke; the Southern Poverty Law Center designates it as a hate group.

The news rocked the Hill. New York Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke, one of five leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, called for the speaker to thoroughly investigate the incident. And RedState, an influential conservative site, ran a piece Tuesday morning saying Scalise should step down from his leadership perch.

Boehner’s statement means that’s now highly unlikely.