WASHINGTON -- As top lawmakers and civil rights leaders gathered in Selma, Alabama, earlier this month to commemorate the civil rights movement, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) took an all-expenses paid trip to a luxurious Georgia resort sponsored by a conservative group.
The weekend trip was paid for by the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington that sponsored an annual conference on Sea Island from March 5-8 that Scalise attended. According to a disclosure report Scalise filed Wednesday that was noted by Legistorm, AEI spent $2,955.50 on airfare for Scalise and on lodging and meals for both Scalise and his wife, Jennifer Scalise. The couple's hotel, The Cloister at Sea Island, is "an oceanfront oasis," according to its website.
Scalise's decision to skip the weekend in Selma raised eyebrows after Scalise was embroiled in a controversy late last year over a speech he gave to a white supremacist group in 2002. Scalise said he was unaware that the group, founded by former Louisiana state Rep. David Duke, advocated for "white civil rights."
News of the speech prompted calls for Scalise to resign from Congress, and in the weeks that followed, Scalise, a leader of the conservative faction of the House Republican caucus, took steps to repair his reputation with civil rights groups. As early as February, Scalise told reporters it was unlikely he would attend the events in Selma, but added, "We're definitely going next year."
According to Scalise's travel disclosure forms, his attendance at the AEI World Forum was connected to his duties as a congressman because "he will be speaking at policy sessions and attending other events at the forum that will influence policy and decision making in the Congress." Scalise was one of a few dozen members of the House and Senate who were scheduled to speak at the event, according to the forms.
A spokesman for Scalise did not respond to an email from The Huffington Post seeking comment on Thursday.