WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A top House Republican has acknowledged that he once addressed a gathering of white supremacists.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise served in the Louisiana Legislature when he appeared at a 2002 convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. Now he is the third-highest ranking House Republican in Washington.

A Scalise aide confirmed to the Associated Press that he spoke to the group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who’s also a former Louisiana lawmaker.

But Moira Bagley Smith said in a written statement that Scalise spoke only to rally support for conservative fiscal policies, not to endorse his audience’s mission.

“Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints,” Smith told The Washington Post. “In every case, he was building support for his policies, not the other way around. In 2002…

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