U.S. Rep. Mike Turner drew criticism from local Democrats for endorsing Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise for a House leadership position Tuesday.
In 2002, Scalise spoke to the European American Unity and Rights Organization formed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
“Steve Scalise and the David Duke wing of the Republican Party do not represent the values of Montgomery County and the Ohio 10th Congressional District,” said Owens. “If Mike Turner believes that a person who admires the beliefs of the leader of the Ku Klux Klan is right for leadership in this country, he has lost touch with the voters of Montgomery County.”
Turner quickly fired back at Owens' comments.
“As a lifetime member of the NAACP, I am offended by Mark Owens’ blatant misrepresentation of Scalise’s record and actions. In addition, Scalise has earned my support because he has been an essential partner with me in the fight to end furloughs at WPAFB and sequestration.”
Scalise apologized earlier this year for talking to the group. He called it a "mistake I regret."
“Twelve years ago, I spoke to many different Louisiana groups as a state representative, trying to build support for legislation that focused on cutting wasteful state spending, eliminating government corruption, and stopping tax hikes,” Scalise said in a statement.
Turner announced his support Tuesday for Scalise and other GOP leadership posts.
On Tuesday, Turner announced his support for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to be the next speaker of House when John Boehner steps down at the end of the month. He also is supporting Scalise for majority whip and North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry for deputy whip.
“I am confident in Rep. McCarthy’s leadership and his work with both Majority Whip Scalise and Chief Deputy Whip Rep. McHenry," Turner said. "Together, they can continue to be an active and efficient leadership team. I believe Rep. McCarthy is able to lead and listen; because of this I think he will be an effective Speaker to deliver a budget that is not balanced on the backs of our men and women in uniform.”
McCarthy is facing some challengers for the speakership. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chair of the House oversight committee, and Rep. Daniel Webster, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives are also running for speaker.
Boehner scheduled a vote for the next speaker to be Oct. 29. The votes for other leadership positions will happen later. Boehner is retiring from Congress and the speakership on Oct. 30.