SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The first black Republican woman elected to Congress has declined to say much about a controversy over a House Republican leader speaking to a white supremacist group 12 years ago.
Utah congresswoman-elect Mia Love says commenting on the revelation that surfaced Monday about House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is difficult because she hasn’t spoken with him about it.
“All I can say is that, from my experience, the majority whip has been extremely helpful to me and all of my colleagues,” Love said in a statement.
The Deseret News reports Love is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 6. Her election drew national attention, and she will be part of a small group of black Republicans in Congress.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports Love has been inundated with requests for comment on the controversy.
Scalise has said he regrets making the speech in 2002 at the Louisiana convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which called itself EURO.
The organization was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified it as a hate group.
“It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold,” the Louisiana congressman said in a statement.
House Republican leaders have been supportive of the Louisiana congressman, including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who said Scalise made an error in judgment, but “has my full confidence as our whip.”
Rep. Cedric Richmond, who will be Louisiana’s only Democrat and only black representative when the new Congress convenes, also expressed support for the congressman in an interview with NOLA.com.
Others have been more critical; a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the speech deeply troubling.
Scalise, 49, gained the leadership post in June. The GOP will control both the House and the Senate when the new Congress convenes next week.
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