TIME 2016 Election

The Invisible Presidential Campaign Kicks Off in Earnest

Scott Walker
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall—AP

Presidential candidates-to-be, and a passel of well-known clingers on, converged in Iowa this weekend with all the flash and fun the nation has come to expect of the Grand Old Party.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina managed substantive introductions, alongside businessman Donald Trump, who declared there is “nobody like Trump,” and Sarah Palin, who struggled with diction and metaphor, offering phrases like “We don’t sit on our thumbs this next time when one of our own is being crucified.”

The real action, however, lay elsewhere, off the stage and out of sight, in an invisible primary taking place behind closed doors in states not known for their place in the nominating calendar. Candidates have been crisscrossing the nation and working the phones, dialing for dollars and loyalty in a contest that may prove far more consequential than speech that can be given before any crowd at this point.

The goal is not to win votes, but to win the support of Republicans like Bobbie Kilberg, who hosted an off-the-record event in Virginia for Christie last week with 96 corporate technology leaders. In recent months, she has taken not one, but two calls from Mitt Romney informing her of her thinking, as he edges toward another campaign. And having worked for the administrations of both Presidents Bush, she feels a special affinity for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose son, George P. Bush, she recently supported in his race for Texas land commissioner.

“I have three wonderful friends in this race,” said Kilberg, who runs the Northern Virginia Technology Council, but supports candidates only in a personal capacity. “My expectation is that all three of them will run.”

But the physics of political fundraising does not allow for her fealty to be equally divided for long. Connecters like Kilberg now face enormous pressure to decide on a single candidate to benefit from their vast Rolodexes. “I think there is enough donor bandwidth for all three of them in the center right lane,” Kilberg explains of the three candidates. “The finite group are the bundlers.”

Securing the 2012 nomination cost Romney $76.6 million, raised in increments up to the legal limit of $2,500. His super PAC, Restore Our Future, which could accept unlimited contributions, added nearly $50 million to the tally.

Operatives affiliated with multiple campaigns say candidates will need at least $50 million to win the nomination this time around, but predict more of the spending will tilt toward the outside groups.

Bush, Romney and Christie are especially squeezed by the fundraising pressures, as their candidacies are set to rely heavily on their predicted ability to match Hillary Clinton’s formidable potential. The early start to the race — candidates are traveling the country earlier and more frequently than ever on the Republican side — adds strain across the board. Complicating matters further are changes to the nominating calendar with fewer debate opportunities and a compressed timeline that favor well-funded candidates once voters get to the polls.

Kilberg and her husband Bill, a prominent Washington lawyer, helped bundle together more than $100,000 in checks of less than $2,000 in 2004 for George W. Bush. In 2012, she helped lead Mitt Romney’s fundraising in Virginia, bringing in a reported $322,000 at just one event at her home. The Tuesday event Kilberg had with Christie and northern Virginia technology executives was not a fundraiser, she said, but a get-to-know-you session.

At almost the same time the event was happening, Bush was meeting in the offices of Dirk Van Dongen, a Republican fundraiser who runs the National Association of Wholesalers. Dongen, a Washington fundraiser for another White House aspirant, Marco Rubio, plans to support Jeb Bush this time, if he runs.

The Bush events were not fundraisers either, though forms were distributed inviting donors to begin bundling for Bush’s new political action committee, Right to Rise. The main purpose, as with the Virginia events, was to win over the networkers who traditionally hold the purse strings of presidential politics. According to people who attended, Bush spoke broadly about his views of the country and the best way to approach the presidential race. He said a winning candidate would have to connect with middle-class anxiety by walking in the shoes of regular people, said one attendee.

“The contrast was obvious,” the attendee said, explaining how Bush appeared to be contrasting himself with Romney’s 2012 campaign. “That’s 100 degrees from the 47% comment.”

Romney, meanwhile, has been reactivating his own donor base, having chosen a donor event in New York early in the month to formally announce his decision to begin pursuing a third presidential campaign. The former private-equity executive has been working the phones since then, telling donors he is serious about considering another bid.

Senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile, held his annual retreat for his top donors in Miami over the weekend, a move designed to keep his loyalists close while he considers his options. He later joined fellow Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on stage in Palm Springs at the winter meeting of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a spending vehicle for the billionaire GOP megadonor Koch brothers and their allies. Also in attendance, after a well-received appearance in Iowa, was Walker, who was making the first stop on a multi-day West Coast fundraising swing for his new fundraising committee, which will be announced as soon as Monday.

While Republican voters have more than a year to decide on the candidate they want to take on Democrats in 2016, the donors clock is ticking. Quarterly fundraising totals, which will come out early this summer and again in the fall, will help shape the race, determining which candidates have the money to mount serious contests, with the grassroots organizing ability and television firepower to withstand the early contests.

“It’s really what we would call in the business a pre-sell,” says a senior Republican strategist about Bush’s visit to Washington this week. “They’ll come back in the next 60 days and do some big fundraising, and they’ll hope to get a lot of those same people to be on their committee.”

For those keeping score, the results of such appeals will be the ones that count, not the applause of activist crowds. In this democratic process, the voices of the people only matter after the first waves of money have been counted.

TIME Crime

U.S. Lawyers Seek to Interview Prince Andrew About Sex-Crime Claims

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, visits Georg August University in Goettingen, Germany on June 3, 2014.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, visits Georg August University in Göttingen, Germany, on June 3, 2014 Swen Pförtner—AP

Lawyers move forward with legal discovery in a sex scandal that spans the Atlantic Ocean

American lawyers for a woman who claims to have been trafficked for sex with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, have asked Queen Elizabeth’s second son to answer the charges in an interview under oath.

Lawyers Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards, who represent a woman who alleges she was kept as an underage “sex slave” by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, sent the formal request on Jan. 14 through their own attorney. In it, they ask to discuss what happened “at the time … and shortly thereafter” a widely circulated photo from 2001 was taken. The photograph shows Prince Andrew with his arm wrapped around the bare midriff of Virginia Roberts, the self-described “sex slave,” who is identified in court documents as Jane Doe No. 3.

Epstein, a financier who has recently split his time between New York and Palm Beach, Fla., settled the criminal case against him in 2008 by cutting a deal with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to two Florida state crimes, registered as a sex offender, served a short jail term and agreed to assist financially his alleged victims in filing civil lawsuits against him. The case has been kept alive since then through those civil cases, and through a federal lawsuit by Cassell and Edwards that alleges the prosecutors violated the victims’ rights in their handling of the case.

The newest documents, filed Wednesday in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, reveal further details about the allegations in the tangled legal case. In one new filing, Roberts says that she has not disclosed all the information that she has about sexual encounters she claims to have had with other powerful men, including politicians, because she is “very fearful of these men.” But she adds, “If a judge wants me to present my information in more detail, including more specific descriptions of the sexual activities with the men Epstein sent me to, I could do so.”

At a separate point in the document, Roberts clarifies past statements about her alleged encounters with former President Bill Clinton at a Caribbean retreat owned by Epstein. “Bill Clinton was present on the island at the time I was also present on the island, but I have never had sexual relations with Clinton, nor have I ever claimed to have had such relations,” she says in the document. “I have never seen him have sexual relations with anyone.”

Edwards, one of the attorneys for Roberts, says in another filing that he previously sought to depose Clinton about his knowledge of illegal activity by Epstein and his accomplices. “The flight logs showed Clinton traveling on Epstein’s plane on numerous occasions between 2002 and 2005,” Edwards writes.

In her own sworn statement, Roberts repeats the claim that she was forced into sexual encounters with both Prince Andrew and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a friend and attorney for Epstein. Buckingham Palace has denied that Prince Andrew had “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with the woman, saying in a previously released statement that her claims are “categorically untrue.” Dershowitz also denied the claims, and has filed legal actions against Cassell and Edwards for allowing the accusations to show up in legal filings, prompting Cassell and Edwards to countersue Dershowitz for defamation. A representative for Epstein has dismissed Roberts’ claims as old and discredited.

“I had sex with him three times, including one orgy,” Roberts says in the affidavit, describing her alleged encounters with Prince Andrew. “I knew he was a member of the British Royal Family, but I just called him ‘Andy.’”

In her affidavit, Roberts says, “I have seen Buckingham Palace’s recent ‘emphatic’ denial that Prince Andrew had sexual contact with me. That denial is false and hurtful to me. I did have sexual contact with him as I have described here — under oath.”

She asked that the Prince “simply voluntarily tell the truth about everything” and agree to be interviewed by her lawyers under oath.

TIME State of the Union 2015

One State of the Union, Two Barack Obamas

For his sixth State of the Union, Barack Obama sent two Presidents to stand before the nation and its Congress, both wearing the same powder-blue tie and speaking with the same familiar voice.

One was victorious, the other knee-deep in the fight. One declared the economy recovered, while the other described the ongoing suffering of America’s workers. One promised an end to politics and partisanship, the other aimed to lay the groundwork for the destruction of his Republican foes.

The night progressed less as a monologue than a tag team between the two faces of a term-limited President working to cement his legacy. It had been “a breakthrough year for the economy,” he said in one breath, just moments before describing the plight of a couple who could not go on vacations because of their student loans, and whose child care cost more than their mortgage. “The shadow of crisis has passed,” he said, before adding that it would “take time” to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and close vulnerabilities exploited by North Korean hackers.

The President’s bet was that both visions could exist at the same time, and that the American people, hungry for good news and happy with recent economic progress, would forgive the contradictions. Obama is not ready to give up on the vision he first presented to the country in 2004, as the fresh-faced state senator who believed not in a blue or red America, but a United States of America. “I still think the cynics are wrong,” he said. “I still believe that we are one people.”

MORE: How 7 ideas in the State of the Union would affect you

But at the same time, he could not deny the knife fighter he had become as the President of a nation where so many viewed his ideas with hostility. “Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” said the optimist Obama about the partisanship around him, while the partisan Obama laid out a policy agenda, including steep increases in taxes for the wealthy, new regulations and new government benefits for poor workers that Republicans had already vowed to block.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” said the optimist, while the partisan taunted applauding Republicans — “I know because I won both of them” — with a gloating grin. “A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” the first continued, while the other declared that the “verdict is clear” on the past five years of partisan fights over the economy and that Democrats had been right.

A few hours before his split-screen identity took over the nation’s televisions, a senior administration official scoffed at the notion that the speech had been written to influence the next presidential election in 2016. “Why would he be focused on an election that he’s not in?” the official said.

MORE: The full text of the State of the Union

In fact, the President was focused not only on 2016, but also 2018, 2020 and many elections beyond. “It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years, and for decades to come,” he said. In politics, choose means vote. And Obama, like all politicians before him, wanted to keep winning.

Legacy matters because the White House knows a simple truth: last fall’s Republican sweep put an end to President Obama’s big-ticket domestic legislative agenda. His work, in other words, is all but done in Congress — no big tax reform, no entitlement fix or comprehensive immigration solution will come while he still has flying rights on Air Force One. What remains for the next two years is regulatory tinkering, budget fights, a long-shot chance of corporate-tax reform and high hopes for some new trade deals sure to upset his party’s base.

MORE: Obama made history by using this word during the State of the Union

But the State of the Union address, the most watched annual public-policy wish list in human history, has never been about new legislative proposals. It is about setting the terms of debate, and all the annual speeches to a joint session of Congress, Obama has only ever really had one thematic frame: the American middle class is struggling. I can help, if my political foes stop playing politics. So let’s do this, America.

The speeches have been good, as a rule, and Tuesday was no exception, but the words have still missed their mark as often as not, because the economic foundation they landed upon was in tatters. Now that it is firming up again, his luck might turn around. Though it is far from certain which Obama history will ultimately remember: The one calling the country to join hands, or the one telling voters to pick a side.

TIME 2016 Election

Huckabee Explains Why His Next Campaign Will Be Different

Mike Huckabee speaks at the Freedom Summit on April 12, 2014 in New Hampshire. Darren McCollester—Getty Images

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee walked away from a six-figure job at Fox News just a couple weeks ago, but don’t feel sorry for him.

As he returns to Iowa and South Carolina next week on a new book tour, the pundit-pastor-politician has visions of much bigger dollar signs in his near future: $50 million to be exact, a goal he has set for himself to fund a second presidential campaign he is now considering.

“You have to have that kind of money to be in the game a year from now,” he told TIME in a phone interview this week. “I am having people come up to me, bundlers and financiers who say, ‘You know I didn’t know you before but we think you have a real pathway to the nomination.’ ”

That wasn’t always the case. In total, Huckabee raised and spent only $16 million in the 2008 contest, a rather minor amount compared to more than $100 million spent by Mitt Romney. The money was painful to raise, and small when it came. “I spent many an hour cooling my heels in the outer offices of potential donors in ’08, and in many cases never even got my calls retuned,” he says. For a time, his campaign manager Chip Saltsman had his BlackBerry set to vibrate every time someone gave an online donation of $100 or more.

This time he says the encouragement has been broad, though he and his advisors are not yet releasing names of bundlers. “If that were not happening,” the almost-candidate says. “I would not be seriously considering anything else.”

Failing to raise enough money the biggest misstep that Huckabee carries with him from the 2008 campaign. For much of the campaign, he did not even employ a finance director to call donors, or arrange call sheets. But that is not his only regret. “In retrospect, I think we should have gone to South Carolina and stayed there instead of going to Michigan,” he says. “At the time, it looked like a good idea because we had to show we could play in states outside the South.” Huckabee came in a distant third in Michigan, behind John McCain and Romney. Huckabee came in second to McCain in South Carolina, separated by a margin of just 3%, or less than 14,000 votes. The campaign never recovered.

But money also isn’t the only variable that Huckabee expects to improve if he runs again in 2016. He thinks he will be better able to beat back the attacks from his political foes on a second go around. “Having been through this before, I am much better prepared,” he says. “After six and a half years of being on TV, writing 12 books, being on the radio every day, I think my conservative bona fides are pretty well laid out, not in what someone says I said, not in what someone distorts my comments to be, but rather in what they have actually been.”

He doesn’t plan to make a final decision on running for months, and is not yet ready to even commit to the Iowa Straw Poll this summer, where his second place finish in 2007 helped lift his campaign to victory in the state. “It would be a little premature to determine what I would or wouldn’t do in relation to the straw poll,” he said.

For now, he is officially content to simply focus on promoting his book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, a a restatement of his past positions wrapped in a furious culture war call to arms. He describes a nation divided between regular all-American “Bubba-ville” against the liberal elites and Wall Street financiers of “Bubble-ville,” knocks pop culture stars and Hollywood directors, and quotes country crooner Merle Haggard when discussing his foreign policy principles. The book ends, quite literally, with the entire lyric sheet from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “Simple Life”: “I like the simple life, the way it used to be.”

That said, Huckabee is talking like a candidate who has made up his mind. Asked what he thinks about the prospect of another Bush, Clinton or Romney topping the national party tickets, he says, “Well there hasn’t been a Huckabee yet. There is room for some new options.”

TIME 2016 Election

Bernie Sanders: Class Warrior for President

Conference Committee Held For Veterans Affairs Reform Bill
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee—Getty Images

The political philosophy of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is not wanting for boogeymen. He sees them everywhere, overrunning Washington, distorting democracy, beating down the working family. It’s hard to go more than a few minutes into conversation before he begins to list them off. “People with incredible wealth and power,” he says. “The pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, Wall Street, the military industrial complex.”

His great regret of Barack Obama is that the President never stood up like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in 1936 to denounce the “economic royalists” of finance and industry, to “welcome their hatred.” “Point the finger at the billionaire class to say, ‘You know what, they hate my guts, the Koch brothers hate me, it’s all right. But I’m with you, and this is what we’re going to do,’ ” Sanders says.

In that shift from Roosevelt’s “economic royalists” to Sanders’ “billionaire class” lie the seeds of a nascent “class-based” presidential campaign that Sanders says he may unfurl as early as March. He has been traveling to New Hampshire and Iowa—”a beautiful state,” he says of the latter—while making the rounds on television news. He has drawn up a 12-step “Economic Agenda for America”—No. 9, not surprisingly, is “Taking on Wall Street”—and deliberating upon the best way to highlight the inequities that threaten the American experiment, so as to spark a grassroots brushfire.

During an hour-long visit to TIME’s Washington Bureau on Thursday, the junior Senator from Vermont, self-described “Democratic socialist” and incoming ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee laid out his vision for a presidential campaign, with all the requisite qualifications since he has yet to make a final decision on running.

If he takes the dive, the political independent who caucuses with Democrats will not spare his adopted party, a fact that is sure to cause headaches for the current heir to the liberal crown, Hillary Clinton. “People see the Democratic Party, which really once was the party of the American working class, really isn’t anymore,” he says. “They have over the years supported trade agreements from corporate America. They have not been vigorous in standing up for the kind of tax system that we need. They have not been vigorous enough in fighting for the kind of jobs programs that we need.” There is more: The deregulation of Wall Street under President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin—”not a Republican,” notes Sanders. The too-small 2009 stimulus of Obama after the great recession. The hesitancy of so many in the party to declare healthcare a basic American right.

That said, he claims no interest in running a campaign that does not yield a large number of votes. He has run and lost protest campaigns before, but to do so now would risk marginalizing his own views. “If we don’t have a good campaign … it’s not just my ego that is hurt,” he says.

He has also not yet decided whether to mount a frontal assault on Hillary Clinton’s likely quest for the Democratic nomination, the most likely route to a consequential campaign. “I have not yet made the decision of whether to run as an independent or within the Democratic primary system,” he cautions, before noting that it is almost impossible for an independent to get on the ballot in states such as North Carolina. “But what I will not do is to create a situation where we elect a right-wing Republican as president.”

And how will he deal with campaign-finance system that increasing favors the candidate with the richest friends? He also says he sees no need to disarm by demanding his supporters eschew unlimited checks to SuperPACs, the big-spending political vehicles of the billionaires he decries. “When I am walking into a campaign where I will be outspent 50 to one, should the first thing that I do be to say I should be outspent 100-to-one?” he asks, rhetorically.

Asked about the familiar last names of the likely frontrunners, he agrees that the Bush and Clinton dynasties raise important issues for the country. “It’s an issue. How dynamic and vital is our American democracy? ” he asks. ” If your dad, or your husband in Hillary’s case, or your father in Jeb Bush’s case, or his brother, has a name that is nationally famous, you start off with a certain name advantage.”

Sanders’ dad sold paint in Brooklyn, and in Sanders’ last statewide campaign he raised only $7 million, about what the 2012 Obama campaign spent in a week during the 2012 election. But a true populist does not let odds get in his way. To quote FDR again, “The resolute enemy within our gates is ever ready to beat down our words unless in greater courage we will fight for them.” So Sanders, his hair always mussed, his Brooklyn accent unfaded, faces a choice, to fight on with his hat in the ring or from the safety of the Senate floor.


TIME justice

Prince Andrew Sex Scandal Lawsuit Has High Legal Stakes

Britain's Prince Andrew speaks at the 10th anniversary of Harrow International School in Beijing
Britain's Prince Andrew speaks at the 10th anniversary of Harrow International School Beijing on Oct. 24, 2014. China Daily/Reuters

Beyond the lurid details lies a legal dispute that could change the way prosecutors handle crime victims

On its face, the story is more lurid than pulp fiction: A federal court filing accuses the Queen of England’s second son, Prince Andrew, of having sex in three countries with the self-described “sex slave” of an American financier, Jeffrey Epstein, who is himself a registered sex offender who settled a civil lawsuit by the woman out of court. A photograph exists of Prince Andrew smiling while he hugs the bare midriff of the teenage girl with his left arm.

The filing also accuses a famous Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, an attorney for Epstein, of having abused the minor, and describes a larger criminal plot run by the financier to facilitate blackmail. The victim claims she was trafficked by Epstein “for sexual purposes to many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister and other world leaders.” These men are not named—yet.

Buckingham Palace denies the charges, as does Dershowitz, who threatens to sue the woman’s lawyers, including a former federal judge who argued last year before the U.S. Supreme Court, for disbarment. The woman’s lawyers sue Dershowitz first, accusing him of defamation for calling them “sleazy” in a CNN interview. An attorney for Epstein called the claims “old and discredited.”

But the oddest twist of all is not just that this is all really happening. It’s the reason why. The lawsuit that mentions these charges does not target any of the people who allegedly committed the crimes. Rather, it is aimed squarely at the U.S. Department of Justice, and its outcome could transform the way federal prosecutors handle high-profile criminal settlements in the future. “It’s a big case,” says Meg Garvin, the director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. “If the Justice Department’s position stands, it eviscerates victims rights in a whole swath of cases.”

At issue is whether federal prosecutors have a legal obligation under the 2004 Crime Victims Rights Act to consult with victims of crimes during plea negotiations, even when settlements are reached before formal charges are filed. If a court eventually finds that they do, lawyers for four alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein hope to throw out a plea deal he signed in 2007, allowing the prosecutors to seek new charges against him, and possibly others.

The roots of the case begin in 2005, when Florida police began investigating claims that Epstein was paying underage girls for sex at his West Palm Beach home. The investigation was later handed over to a U.S. Attorney, after investigators uncovered evidence that more than a dozen girls may have been victimized by Epstein.

After contentious negotiations, the Justice Department agreed to a deal with Epstein that required him to plead guilty to two state charges, including a single count of solicitation of minors for prostitution, to register as a sex offender and to serve a short jail sentence. Epstein also agreed to assist his victims in filing civil suits against him for the harm he had done. (Epstein later settled a civil suit filed by Virginia Roberts, the self-described “sex slave,” who has accused Prince Andrew and Dershowitz. Roberts’ initial filing in her 2009 civil suit included the claim that Epstein had required her to be sexually exploited by his “adult male peers, including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessman” and others.)

In exchange, the U.S. Attorney agreed to drop any further prosecution for the sex crimes, for either Epstein or the people who had allegedly helped him to recruit and pay the girls. The agreement also said that “the parties anticipate that this agreement will not be made part of any public record,” an unusual condition for such a criminal plea.

The outcome of the case shocked several of the victims, who felt blindsided both by the timing and the leniency. In the months that followed, two attorneys, a Florida trial lawyer named Bradley Edwards and a former federal judge named Paul Cassell, who is also a victims’ rights advocate and law professor, sued prosecutors for failing to properly notify the victims of the case, which they argued was required by the Crime Victims Rights Act. “This will send the message that federal prosecutors can’t keep victims in the dark about the plea arrangements they are making,” Cassell tells TIME about the rationale for the lawsuit.

The case has been now been ongoing for six years, with more than 280 filings. The Dec. 30 filing that set off the latest round of media coverage was a request to allow two other alleged victims of Epstein, including Roberts, to join the case. The district judge in the case is now considering a request from the lawyers to release documents that would shed light on the negotiations between the Justice Department and Epstein that lead to the settlement.

In legal filings, Edwards and Cassell have questioned, without specific evidence, whether there was external political pressure on the U.S. Attorney to keep the case from trial, either from Prince Andrew or former President Clinton, who traveled with Epstein on his private plane at the time but has not been accused of wrongdoing. “The elephant in the room is this: How does a guy who sexually abused 40 girls end up doing basically one year in a halfway house,” says Cassell, using one estimate of the number of victims in the case. “This stinks to high heaven.”

If the victims are successful, they hope to void the original settlement with Epstein, giving the Justice Department another shot at punishing Esptein. They also hope to set a precedent for future cases, forcing the Justice Department to consult with victims of high-profile crimes, even when the cases are settled out of court before formal criminal charges.

Ironically, the case may have already made some headway in changing the Justice Department’s behavior. In 2011, after Cassell and Edwards started the lawsuit, Attorney General Eric Holder released new guidelines for how prosecutors should work with victims, even in cases where no formal charges are brought. “In circumstances where plea negotiations occur before a case has been brought,” the new guidelines read, “Department policy is that this should include reasonable consultation prior to the filing of a charging instrument with the court.”

The Justice Department continues to maintain, however, that this consultation is not required by law.

TIME Congress

House Republicans Seek to Turn Page on Steve Scalise Scandal

Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks at the House Triangle during the Coal Caucus' news conference on the EPA's recently proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants on Sept. 26, 2013 in Washington. Bill Clark—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

David Duke, a former wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, doesn’t think the third most powerful House Republican needs to apologize for attending one of his meetings in 2002. After all, they share a lot of constituents.

“In the district, which is his current Congressional district, I received over 60% of the vote to be the United States Senator, and then in the next year over 60% of the vote for the governorship,” Duke said on his Internet radio show on Tuesday. “Why in the world can’t someone serving the people come around the constituency and talk about a vote or something?”

It’s a question that has bedeviled Republicans in Louisiana since long before House Majority Whip Steve Scalise decided to speak to Duke’s group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. “The farther in the past you get the more connections you have to ‘old time’ Louisiana politics, which has always had racists and groups interested in promoting white supremacy,” said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

On Tuesday, House leaders decided to give Scalise a pass for his “error in judgement,” as Speaker John Boehner put it, noting that the Lousiana lawmaker had apologized. The principle organizer of the 2002 event, Kenny Knight, told the Washington Post that he invited Scalise, who lived in his neighborhood, and does not believe knew of the groups views on race.

But the battle over Duke’s constituents continues, even though the influence of the activist, who now rails against what he says as Zionist control of media and finance, has waned considerably in the last three decades.

Duke, who started a Klan chapter out of college, once represented a statehouse district in the same area of Louisiana that Scalise now represents. In a 1990 U.S. Senate race, after a campaign that focused on those Klan ties and saw President George H.W. Bush supporting the Democrat, Duke received 44% of the statewide vote, including a majority of the white vote. After that election, Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who worked for the winning candidate, surveyed about 500 Louisiana voters who either supported or said there was a chance they would vote for Duke. “The white voters felt the establishment had been giving them the short end of the stick,” Garrin explained.”It was not just an angry time but also very raw.”

Issues like affirmative action and welfare registered as top concerns among this group. Of the group of Duke supporters and potential supporters, 49% said it happened sometimes or a lot that “qualified blacks are denied jobs or promotions because of racial prejudice.” But 85% of the same voters said it happened sometimes or a lot that “qualified whites lose out on jobs and promotions because blacks get special preference due to affirmative action hiring goals.” In the survey, which was conducted in December of 1990, 22% of respondents said that the one reason to support Duke was that he “has the guts to take pro-white stands, while other politicians cater to minority groups.” An additional 22% said pointed to Duke taking “a strong stand on cleaning up the welfare mess.”

By the late 1990s, when Scalise entered state politics, Duke’s constituency was still a force in the area. He received 19% of the vote in the special election to replace Republican incumbent Bob Livingston in 1999. By 2002, when Scalise addressed the group, mainstream Republicans had full control of the state GOP from Duke’s allies. “He was basically a potato by then,” said Louisiana political consultant Roy Fletcher. “You could stick a fork in him.” Duke was also living in Moscow, returning to the United States in late 2002 to plead guilty to felony mail fraud and false tax return charges.

Now Duke markets his ideas online, through a website, books and an online radio show. Scalise, for his part, is on record distancing himself from Duke as far back as 1999. “David Duke is an embarrassment to our district and his message of hate only serves to divide us,” Scalise told a local business trade publication in 2004.

On Monday, after news of his appearance broke, Scalise was even more direct. “I detest any kind of hate group,” he said.

— With reporting by Denver Nicks and Alex Rogers

TIME Congress

Former KKK Wizard David Duke Says He Doesn’t Support Steve Scalise

Former Klansman and congressional candidate David Duke discusses his bid for the seat opened by Rep. Bob Livingston during NBC's ''Meet the Press'' on March 28, 1999 in Washington.
Former Klansman and congressional candidate David Duke discusses his bid for the seat opened by Rep. Bob Livingston during NBC's ''Meet the Press'' on March 28, 1999 in Washington. Richard Ellis—Getty Images

Duke said he disagrees with Scalise's support for Israel

David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said Tuesday that he does not support, and would not vote for, Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican majority whip, who is under fire for speaking in 2002 to a group that Duke founded.

“Even though I respect the guy, I think he is a pretty good family guy, I would not vote for him now,” Duke said on his daily radio show, which is broadcast online. “I would not vote for him next time he ran because specifically folks, he like so many other Congressmen, feel like they are forced to support the interests of Israel over the United States of America.”

Scalise admitted Monday that he spoke in 2002 to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, when he was serving as a Republican state legislator in suburban New Orleans. Scalise said he did not know of Duke’s affiliation with the group at the at the time, and condemns its ideology.

On his radio show, Duke described EURO Tuesday as a human rights group, focused not on white supremacy but on equal rights. He said representatives from a local sheriff office, and the American Red Cross also attendeded the meeting, which Duke addressed by remote from Moscow, where he was living at the time, with a speech that focused on his opposition to the Iraq war. “My speech was about the Iraq war,” Duke said, adding that thought at the time “that it was a war for Israel, the Richard Perles and the Paul Wolfowitzes of the world”—a reference to two Jewish advisers to President George W. Bush, who supported the Iraq war.

Duke, a former Republican state legislator who has run unsuccessfully several times for higher office, said he did not hear Scalise’s address to the group. “He came and actually just spoke to his local constituents about one of his tax bills, and they are trying to make it out like this is a big deal,” he said.

“I really believe that the Zio-globalists that control the American media, finance and government are leading us all to disaster, both African Americans, white Americans, all Americans,” he continued, returning to his central theme.

At another point in the broadcast, he condemned the “absolute filth, drugs and violence” promoted by the hip-hop star Nicki Minaj. “Why do people blame blacks like Minaj?” he asked, rhetorically. “Because Minaj wouldn’t be a pimple on somebody’s rear end except for the fact that she is promoted by the Jewish record producers and the media, the mass media, the powerful media, that promotes absolute degenerates like her.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser