House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has built his political career on relentless outreach and driving ambition, according to The New York Times
After coming under fire last week for speaking at a white supremacist event in 2002, Scalise's political career is under examination. Then a state legislator, he gave a speech about taxes before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), an organization founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
After the speech was reported, Scalise apologized, saying he was not aware of the organization's platform when he spoke and he would not endorse the activities of such a "hate group," CBS News reported
"He builds relationships like no one I've ever seen," North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry told the Times. "He's an Italian from New Orleans, there is a cultural expectation that you build friendships."
Friends and allies of Scalise told the Times that he will go anywhere and talk to anyone which may have been in part responsible for why he found himself in a position of addressing the group.
But there is also the possibility that in his aggressive drive for support he turned a blind eye to the group's racist beliefs, the Times said.
Scalise's rise to the leadership has been built on his personable approach and attention to personal politics, according to the Times. Colleagues, both former and present have vouched for his character
House Speaker John Boehner described Scalise as a man of "good character." Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, an African-American, who also served with Scalise when he was in the Legislature, said Scalise does not have "a racist bone in his body."
And freshman GOP Rep. Mia Love, also black, has defended Scalise
, saying he should remain in the leadership.
A number of conservatives on the right, however, have criticized the decision not to remove Scalise from his post, saying it was a missed opportunity to demonstrate that the Republican Party is serious about its commitment to minorities, the Times reported.
The Times said that assuming nothing further emerges about his involvement with the group, Scalise's position appears to be safe.
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