As details about the man who shot GOP lawmakers and staff as they practiced for a charity baseball game emerge, the Southern Poverty Law Center — which continually attacks conservatives and conservative organizations as being hate groups — issued a statement about the shooter having “liked” its Facebook page.
But it did not retract any of the criticism of Majority Whip Steve Scales (R-LA), who remains in critical condition at a local hospital.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., who shot Scalise and four others, died of his wounds after first responders successfully stopped his rampage.
“The attack on members of Congress and their staffs today was a sickening and cowardly act of terror that must be condemned by everyone across the political spectrum,” Richard Cohen, president of SPLC said in a statement. “Any violent attack on our political leadership is an attack on our democracy.”
“We’re aware that the SPLC was among hundreds of groups that the man identified as the shooter ‘liked” on Facebook,” the statement said. “I want to be as clear as I can possibly be: The SPLC condemns all forms of violence.”
“We have worked for decades to combat domestic terrorism and violence based on hate,” Cohen said in the statement, entitled “Attack on GOP Congressmen is Assault on Democracy.”
“Our hearts are with those who were injured today and the families of all who have been affected by this deplorable act,” Cohen said. “We hope and pray for their full recovery.”
But in posts on its website dating back to 2014, SPLC had repeatedly implied that Scalise associated with white supremacists and other groups the organization had deemed “hate groups,” including the Family Research Center where a gunman attacked the conservative, Christian group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2012 and later told law enforcement that he was inspired by SPLC’s Hate Map.
In its Spring “Intelligence Report” in 2015, SPLC implied that because Scalise lives in the same state as Ku Klux Klan members, he “associated” with them.
“In fact, Scalise, who hails from the same Louisiana parish as Duke and Knight, may have had some real affinities with EURO. In 1999, Roll Call reported that Scalise ‘said he embraces many of the same ‘conservative’ views as Duke, but is more viable.’ Scalise also reportedly told a columnist that his politics were similar to Duke’s, but ‘without the baggage.'”
In December of 2014, SPLC attacked Scalise for allegedly speaking at a gathering that included white supremacists.
“Faced with an exploding crisis sparked by the revelation that the No. 3 Republican in the House gave a speech to a well-known group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis a dozen years ago, the GOP in Rep. Steve Scalise’s home state of Louisiana is doubling down, calling the entire episode a mere ‘manufactured blogger story,'” SPLC wrote.
“Really? A manufactured blogger story?” SPLC wrote, adding:
Scalise claimed yesterday that he had no idea of the views promoted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), whose workshop he addressed in 2002 at a hotel in Metairie, La. And he was backed by an array of Louisiana Republicans including state GOP chair Roger Villere Jr., who described Scalise as ‘a man of great integrity who embodies his Christian faith in his life.’
Villere dismissed the story broken by Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. as ‘an attempt to score political points by slandering the character of a good man.’
“But Scalise’s claim of ignorance is almost impossible to believe,” SPLC wrote. “He was a state representative and an aspiring national politician at the time, and Louisiana-based EURO already was well known as a hate group led by America’s most famous white supremacist.”