Steve Scalise

Steve Scalise
House Majority Whip
Assumed office
August 1, 2014
Leader Kevin McCarthy
Preceded by Kevin McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 1st district
Assumed office
May 3, 2008
Preceded by Bobby Jindal
Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 9th district
In office
January 14, 2008  May 6, 2008
Preceded by Ken Hollis
Succeeded by Conrad Appel
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 82nd district
In office
January 8, 1996  January 14, 2008
Preceded by Quentin Dastugue
Succeeded by Cameron Henry
Personal details
Born Stephen Joseph Scalise
(1965-10-06) October 6, 1965
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jennifer Letulle
Children 2
Alma mater Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (BS)
Website House website
Party website

Stephen Joseph "Steve" Scalise (born October 6, 1965) is the current United States House of Representatives Majority Whip and representative for Louisiana's 1st congressional district, serving since 2008. He is a member of the Republican Party[1][2] and was the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee.[3]

Prior to his congressional tenure, Scalise served for four months in the Louisiana State Senate and twelve years in the Louisiana House of Representatives. On June 19, 2014, Scalise was elected by his Republican colleagues to serve as Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives. He assumed office on August 1. He is the first Louisianan in the Majority Whip's position since Democrat Hale Boggs of Louisiana's 2nd congressional district held the position from 1962 to 1971.

Early life

Scalise was born in New Orleans, one of three children of Alfred Joseph Scalise, a real estate broker who died on October 8, 2015 at the age of seventy-seven, and the former Carol Schilleci. His siblings are Glenn and Tara Scalise.[4]

Scalise graduated from Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie in Jefferson Parish and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with a major in computer programming and a minor in political science.[5] At Louisiana State University, Scalise was a member of the Acacia Fraternity.[6]

Louisiana Legislature

After Republican State Representative Quentin D. Dastugue made an unsuccessful bid for Governor of Louisiana in the 1995 Republican primary, Scalise was recruited by state Republicans to run for his seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, which he did, winning election to it in 1995.[7] Scalise was re-elected to the seat in 1995 and 1999, serving until 2003.[8] His legislative peers named him to the House Appropriations Committee as the representative of the First Congressional District. Scalise opposed the 2002 Stelly Plan, a proposal by Lake Charles Representative Vic Stelly, since repealed, to reduce certain state sales taxes on food for home consumption and utilities in exchange for higher state income taxes.

Scalise was elected in the October 20, 2007, nonpartisan blanket primary to the District 9 seat in the Louisiana Senate vacated by the term-limited Ken Hollis of Metairie. Scalise received 19,154 votes (61 percent) in a three-way contest. Fellow Republican Polly Thomas polled 8,948 votes (29 percent). A Democrat, David Gereighty, polled 3,154 votes (10 percent) in the heavily Republican-oriented district. Scalise was succeeded in the state House by his aide, Cameron Henry of Metairie.

In the special election on November 4, 2008 to fill the remaining three and one-half years in Scalise's state Senate term, Conrad Appel defeated Polly Thomas, 21,853 (52.1 percent) to 20,065 (47.9 percent). Thomas had also lost the race for the seat in 2007 to Scalise.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives

On being asked by the New Orleans Times-Picayune to assign Democrat Barack Obama a letter grade for Obama's first 100 days as President, Scalise awarded the new president an L (for "liberal").[10]

Committee assignments

Legislative history

In 2011, Scalise became a co-sponsor of Bill H.R.3261 otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (withdrawn Jan 23, 2012).[11] As chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Scalise dismissed Derek Khanna, a committee staffer, in December 2012 because of pressure from content industry lobbyists after the study committee published a memo advocating copyright reform.[12]

In 2013, Scalise voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.[13] Also in 2013, Scalise sponsored a bill called the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act. The bill makes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consolidate several of their reports into one report.[14]

Leadership race

In the aftermath of Rep. Eric Cantor's unexpected defeat by David Brat on June 10, 2014, Scalise launched a campaign to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the position of Majority Whip of the House; McCarthy himself would replace Cantor as House Majority Leader. Scalise's ascent to leadership built on his "come-from-behind win in 2012 to become chairman" of the Republican Study Committee.[15] Scalise subsequently won a three-way race for whip, winning on the first ballot despite the efforts of fellow candidates Peter Roskam and Marlin Stutzman.[16][17] He came under fire for using the assistance of a federal lobbyist, John Feehery, when hiring staff for the Majority Leader's Press Office.[18]

Since becoming Majority Whip, Scalise has delivered several public defeats for the GOP on immigration, abortion, and education policy.[19]

Political campaigns

2008 special election

In 2004, Scalise announced that he would run for the U.S. House but thereafter deferred to the preference of party leaders and supported Jindal, who won the position vacated by the successful U.S. senatorial candidate, David Vitter.

In 2007, when Jindal was elected to the governorship of Louisiana, Scalise announced his intentions to seek the seat yet again. This time he received Republican party backing.

Scalise's strongest Republican primary opponent, State Representative Timothy G. "Tim" Burns from Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish, accused Scalise of push polling, a practice in which a campaign contacts voters by telephone and asks probing questions which leave a negative impression of his opponent. Scalise defended his poll from criticism by Burns: "We were running a public opinion survey this week conducted by the largest Republican polling firm in the country, Public Opinion Strategies. . . . conducted with a sample of 300 people, and it shows Scalise at 57 percent, Burns at 26 percent and undecided at 17 percent The margin of error is 5.6 percent. We ran a fact-based public opinion survey, not a push poll."[20]

In the March 8, 2008, Republican primary, Scalise polled 16,799 votes (48 percent). He went on to win the runoff election on April 5 against Burns, who received 9,631 votes (28 percent) in the initial primary.[21][21][22]

In the May 3 general election, Scalise received 33,867 votes (75.13 percent) to Democrat Gilda Reed's 10,142 ballots (22.5 percent). Two minor candidates polled the remaining 2.36 percent of the vote. Reed was a favorite of organized labor and the Democratic constituency groups. The First District has been Republican since 1977, when Bob Livingston won a special election.[23]

Scalise was sworn in on May 7, 2008.


In the regularly scheduled election, Scalise was reelected over Democrat Jim Harlan, 66 percent to 34 percent.


Scalise defeated the Democratic nominee, Myron Katz, and an Independent, Arden Wells, in his 2010 bid for reelection.


In June 2009, Scalise joined Dan Kyle, the former legislative auditor and the treasurer of the Louisiana GOP, as directors of a national presidential fund-raising effort promoting Governor Jindal. According to Kyle, the group hoped to raise $60 million to persuade Jindal to seek the 2012 party nomination.[24] Others on the committee include former State Representative Woody Jenkins. Former Republican State Senator Tom Schedler of Slidell had his name removed from the group, not because he opposes Jindal but because such fund-raising activity could conflict with Schedler's role at the time as first assistant to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne.[24] In 2010, Schedler succeeded Dardenne as secretary of state.

In his own 2012 congressional race, Scalise prevailed with 193,490 votes (66.6 percent) over four opponents, the strongest of which was the Democrat M. V. "Vinny" Mendoza, who finished with 61,979 votes (21.3 percent). A second Republican, Gary King, received 24,838 votes (8.6 percent). Independent Arden Wells ran again and received 4,285 votes (1.5 percent) in his second race against Scalise.[25]

European-American Unity and Rights Organization speech

In 2014, political blogger[26][27] Lamar White, Jr. uncovered anonymous comments from 2002 on the white supremacist website Stormfront that referenced a speech Scalise had given, from which he concluded Scalise addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by David Duke.[26][28][29][30][31][32] White posted his findings on his blog and soon after the media took note. Scalise said that he had spoken at the conference in 2002 and stated that he did not know of the "racist nature of the group".[27]

Various Louisiana politicians, including Republican Governor Bobby Jindal and Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond defended Scalise's character.[33] Speaker of the House John Boehner voiced his continued confidence in Scalise as Majority Whip.[28][34] Several Democratic members of Congress, as well as Mo Elleithee, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, criticized Scalise, and challenged his statement that he was not aware of the group's affiliation with racism and anti-Semitism.[35] Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center called upon Scalise to step down from his leadership position as Majority Whip.[36][37] According to John Hayward at Human Events, the story of Scalise's speaking engagement in 2002 was "either dubiously sourced, a mistake, or an outright hoax".[38][39]

On December 29, Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call reprinted an article that had been run in 1999, after Congressman Bob Livingston had resigned from Congress. Duke and Scalise were considering running for his seat and they and others were interviewed for the piece. When asked about a potential bid for Congress by Duke, Scalise had told the newspaper that he held many of the same conservative views as Duke, but was a more electable candidate, saying that Duke's novelty had worn off.[40] Duke called Scalise a "sellout" for apologizing for speaking to the group and said that he might run against him in the 2016 elections because Scalise had been "elected on false pretenses" and had "betrayed" the voters by "suggesting that they're racist because they supported my views".[41][42][43]

Personal life

He is a member of the American Italian Renaissance Foundation. He married Jennifer Ann Scalise nee Letulle (born 1975) on September 4, 2005.[44] The couple has two children.[45]


  1. "Current House Floor Proceedings Legislative Day of May 7, 2008 110th Congress – Second Session". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  2. "Office of the clerk, U.S. House of Representative". 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  3. "Deborah Barfield Berry, With Alexander departing, delegation's clout in question? Will Alexander loss, Senate battle hurt Louisiana in the nation's capital?". Shreveport Times. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  4. "Alfred Joseph Scalise". New Orleans Times-Picayune. October 9, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  5. Pierce, Charles (July 8, 2013). "Home / Blogs / The Politics Blog The Politics Blog The Republicans' New Debt Ceiling "Menu"". Esquire. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  6. "Tell Us About Your Fraternity's Racist History and/or Present". Gawker. March 16, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  7. Bridges, Tyler (May 7, 2015). "Steve Scalise, Take Two". Politico. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  8. Scalise, Steve J. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  9. Louisiana Secretary of State, November 4, 2008, election results:
  10. Tilove, Jonathan, "Obama's first 100 days are graded on a curve" in Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 2009 April 29, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A6 (web version = Louisiana's congressional delegation grades President Obama's first 100 days from A to L.)
  11. Bill H.R.3261;;
  12. Lee, Timothy B. (December 6, 2012). "Staffer axed by Republican group over retracted copyright-reform memo". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  13. Trotter, J.K. (February 28, 2013). "Here's Who Voted Against the Violence Against Women Act". The Atlantic.
  14. Harrison, Julie, "Scalise’s FCC consolidation bill sails through House", The Ripon Advance, 9-12-13. (Retrieved 9-12-13).
  15. Joachim, David S., "Louisianan Seeks to Extend Rapid Rise in House G.O.P.", New York Times, June 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  16. Parker, Ashley, and Jeremy W. Peters, "House Republicans Name McCarthy as Cantor’s Replacement", New York Times, June 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  17. Sherman, Jake; Bresnahan, John; Palmer, Anna (19 June 2014). "Inside the House GOP leadership shake-up". Politico. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  18. Palmer, Anna; Sherman, Jake. "To pick staff, Scalise turns to lobbyist". Politico. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  19. Newhauser, Daniel (3 March 2015). "The GOP's Lost Agenda". National Journal Group Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  20. "Scalise defends integrity of GOP runoff survey". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  21. 1 2 Louisiana Secretary of State Unofficial Election Results Inquiry Results for Election Date: 4/05/08
  22. " ELECTIONS section". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  23. Louisiana Secretary of State-Multi-Parish Elections Inquiry
  24. 1 2 "Michelle Millhollon, "Official pulls out of Jindal group", June 16, 2009". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  25. "Louisiana election returns, November 6, 2012". Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  26. 1 2 Costa, Robert. "House Majority Whip Scalise confirms he spoke to white nationalists in 2002". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  27. 1 2 Martin, jonathan & Calmes, Jackie (December 31, 2014). "Republicans Try to Fix Damage Scalise's 2002 Speech Could Do in 2016". New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  28. 1 2 Jaffe, Alexandra & Walsh, Deirdra (December 31, 2014). "GOP leadership stands by Scalise after white supremacist speech". CNN. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  29. Sarlin, Benjy (December 29, 2014). "GOP leader Steve Scalise may have addressed supremacist conference". MSNBC. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  30. Reilly, Mollie & Grim, Ryan (December 29, 2014). "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Spoke At White Supremacist Conference In 2002". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  31. "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Was Reportedly an Honored Guest at 2002 International White Supremacist Convention". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  32. Calderone, Michael (December 30, 2014). "How Louisiana Blogger Lamar White, Jr. Landed The Steve Scalise White Supremacist Scoop". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  33. O'Donoghue, Julia (December 29, 2014). "Steve Scalise attended white nationalist event, but says he wasn't aware of group's views". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  34. Bendery, Jennifer (December 30, 2014). "John Boehner Backs Steve Scalise Amid Controversy Over White Supremacist Meeting". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  35. Benjy Sarlin (March 19, 2015). "Steve Scalise: Speaking at supremacist event 'a mistake I regret'". MSNBC.
  36. "Southern Poverty Law Center". Southern Poverty Law Center.
  37. Berman, Mark (December 30, 2014). "SPLC calls for congressman who spoke to white supremacist group to step down from leadership". Washington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  38. Hayward, John (December 31, 2014). "Media: Um, that big Steve Scalise story probably didn't happen, but he's still 'embattled' anyway". Human Events. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  39. "Media: Um, That Big Steve Scalise Story Probably Didn't Happen, But He's Still 'Embattled' Anyway".
  40. Niels Lesniewski (December 29, 2014). "What Scalise and Vitter Told Roll Call About David Duke in 1999". Roll Call. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  41. Kendall Breitman (January 29, 2015). "David Duke says he 'might' challenge Rep. Steve Scalise". Politico. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  42. Andrew Kaczynski; Megan Apper (January 29, 2015). "David Duke Says He Might Run For Congress Against "Sell Out" Steve Scalise". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  43. Sam Levine (January 29, 2015). "Former KKK Leader David Duke Says He May Run Against Steve Scalise". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  44. "Marriage Annacouments". Times Picayune. 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  45. Alpert, Bruce, "You can call him 'Mr. Majority Whip' – Rep. Steve Scalise wins House leadership race", Times-Picayune, June 19, 2014. "... [W]ife, Jennifer, and children Madison and Harrison"; caption. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bobby Jindal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 1st congressional district

Preceded by
Kevin McCarthy
House Majority Whip
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Jordan
Chair of the Republican Study Committee
Succeeded by
Rob Woodall
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jackie Speier
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Donna Edwards
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