UNDATED (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.

Smith said the group is driven by "hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance" that Scalise rejects.

A liberal Louisiana blogger, Lamar White Jr., first reported the appearance.

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