Hold On About That Rush to Judgment on Scalise

From Slate, an online liberal outlet, comes this tidbit for digestion from columnist Betsy Woodruff.  According to her article there may be a very good reason Steven Scalise does not remember speaking at a white supremacist conference in 2002 while a state representative:  HE NEVER DID.

According to this account, Kenny Knight who was an associate of David Duke was tasked with setting up the event for the Euro-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO)- the group in question.  Make no mistake- they were an anti-Semitic, racist group although Knight denies such.  Duke was out of the country at the time which is why Knight had the job of securing a room for the meeting at the Landmark Best Western.  The EURO event was scheduled to begin at 1:00 that afternoon.  Knight noted that he also arranged for meals at a local restaurant and a haunted house tour of the New Orleans French Quarter for the EURO conference attendees.

Knight was also president of the Jefferson Heights Civic Association and lived in the same neighborhood as Scalise although he insists they never spoke about politics.  Left unmentioned is whether Scalise was aware of Knight’s association with EURO.  Regardless, since Knight had the room booked for the conference, he used some of that time in the morning for a meeting of the Jefferson Heights Civic Association- a collection of mainly elderly people who lived in the neighborhood.  Knight said it is this meeting that Scalise attended, not the EURO conference later that day.  Scalise had been invited as a representative of the Jefferson sheriff’s office and that a member of the local Red Cross also was invited.

At that meeting, Scalise talked about a neighborhood watch program and some legislation he was working on as a state representative while the Red Cross person gave a CPR demonstration.  Woodruff also interviewed Barbara Noble who was Knight’s girlfriend at the time.  She confirmed this sequence of events and further stated that Scalise was there for no more than 15 minutes in the morning, not at the EURO conference.  Furthermore, there was no signage or banners indicating that the room would hold a meeting of the EURO people.

In effect, Scalise may have apologized for being at an event he never attended.  Knight noted that perhaps two-thirds to three-fourths of attendees at the Civic Association meeting were Civic Association members.  He surmises the rest were other hotel guests and probably some EURO conference attendees staying at the hotel who wandered in for coffee and refreshments.

The “evidence” against Scalise is anonymous posts on a neo-Nazi website called Stormfront which mentioned his presence at the conference in question.  That anonymous poster is now defunct on the website.  It is an old post also.  it is quite possible that Alsace Herbert- the poster’s online name- got his conferences wrong.

The only problem- if this rendition of events is correct- for Scalise would be why he would associate with Knight in the first place.  As Knight himself says, they were neighbors in Jefferson Heights and would wave to one another.  They also met on a few occasions at Republican Party functions.  Whether Scalise knew that Knight was a member of EURO or an associate of David Duke is unknown.

While the mainstream media is portraying this as “really bad” for the GOP, what we may have is another Rolling Stone-style journalism effort.   If Knight’s rendition is correct, then the detractors on both sides need to apologize…then wipe the knee-jerk reaction egg off their faces.