Duke made several unsuccessful bids for political office, including runs for the Louisiana House, Louisiana Senate, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor of Louisiana and twice for president of the United States. In 2002, he pled guilty to tax evasion and fraud charges, resulting in a year-long prison sentence. He is a long-time New Orleans resident and the father of two.
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
In 1974, David Duke founded the Louisiana-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a Ku Klux Klan group, shortly after graduating from LSU. He first received broad public attention during this time, as he successfully marketed himself in the mid-1970s as a new brand of Klansman — well-groomed, engaged, and professional. Duke also reformed the organization, promoting nonviolence and legality, and, for the first time in the Klan's history, women were accepted as equal members and Catholics were encouraged to apply for membership.
NAAWP v. NAACP
In 1978, Duke left the Klan and two years later formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP).
On May 20 2004, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) became outraged when it discovered that David Duke had chosen New Orleans to host his International NAAWP Conference during the NAACP's Big Easy Rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
European Unity and Rights Organization
Duke is the president of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), and remains a political activist against affirmative action, Zionist interests, hate crime laws, and non-European immigration into the United States. Duke has gained an audience in Ukraine and the Arab world for his opposition to Zionism. The EURO was previously titled N.O.F.E.A.R., the National Organization for European-American Rights, but faced legal challenges by fashion company No Fear Inc.. This forced Duke to find a name for his organization without a preexisting copyright.
Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP)
In September 2005, Duke received a Ph.D. title in History from the Ukrainian Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP). His doctoral thesis was titled "Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism". MAUP is a large university, with over 50,000 students, which is accredited by Ukraine's Ministry of Education, and is where Duke had previously received an honorary doctorate. It is regarded by its critics as the main source of antisemitic activity and publishing in Ukraine, and its "antisemitic actions" were "strongly condemned" by Foreign Minister of Ukraine Borys Tarasyuk and various Jewish interest and anti-racist organizations. Duke has been allowed to teach an international relations and a history course at MAUP.
In 1998, Duke published his autobiography My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding. The book details Duke's life and his social philosophies, especially his reasoning behind racial separation. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) review of the book refers to it as containing racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic views. In the book, Duke speaks against racial integration and in favor of white separatism, stating:
We (white nationalists) desire to live in our own neighborhoods, go to our own schools, work in our own cities and towns, and ultimately live as one extended family in our own nation. We shall end the racial genocide of integration. We shall work for the eventual establishment of a separate homeland for African Americans, so each race will be free to pursue its own destiny without racial conflicts and ill will.
In 2000, David Duke published in Russia his latest controversial book: Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question. The book eschews the layout of his first autobiographical work, and instead purports to "examine and document elements of ethnic supremacism that have existed in the Jewish community from historical to modern times". The book is dedicated to Israel Shahak, a critical author of what Shahak saw as supremacist religious teachings in modern Jewish culture. Duke denies the book is motivated by antisemitism.
At one time, the book was sold in the main lobby of the building of Russian State Duma (congress). The first printing of 5,000 copies sold out in several weeks. Reacting to this, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) office in Moscow urged the Moscow prosecutor to open an investigation of Boris Mironov, the former Yeltsin's administration official and a prominent far-right politician, who wrote an introduction for the Russian edition of Jewish Supremacism, called The Jewish Question Through the Eyes of an American. The ADL office also initiated a letter from a prominent Duma member to Russia’s Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, urging that a criminal case be opened against the author and the Russian publisher of Duke’s book. The letter by Alexander Fedulov described the book as antisemitic and as violating Russian anti-hate crime laws. In December 2001, Prosecutor's office closed the investigation of Boris Mironov and Jewish Supremacism. In a public letter, Yuri Biryukov, First Deputy of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, stated that a socially-psychological examination, which was conducted as a part of the investigation, concluded that the book and the actions of Boris Mironov did not break Russian hate-crime laws.
In 2002, Duke traveled to eastern Europe to promote Jewish Supremacism and, in 2004, the book was published in the USA. As of 2006, Duke claims that the book has been translated in 8 languages. Some sources claim more than 500,000 copies have been sold worldwide.
On November 24, 2005, Duke visited Damascus, Syria, addressing a rally which was broadcast on Syrian television, and later giving an interview. During the rally, he referred to Israel as a "war-mongering country", adding that "Washington, New York and London and many other capitals of the world" are "occupied by the Zionists."
After speaking to the Syrian people, Duke was interviewed, where he said that Israel "makes the Nazi state look very, very moderate." Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash replied that Duke's visit gave Syrians a "new and very positive view of the average American."
Comments in the media
Since 2005, Duke has appeared three times on "Current Issues," a Lafayette, Louisiana–based television show hosted and produced by Palestinian-American Hesham Tillawi, which has recently been picked up by Bridges TV. Show host Tillawi gave Duke the opportunity to discourse at length about his beliefs about Jewish supremacism. On a show in October 2005, Duke claimed that Jewish extremists are responsible for undermining the morality of America and are attempting to "wash the world in blood."
After John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's paper on The Israel Lobby appeared in March 2006, Duke praised the paper in a number of articles on his website, on his March 18 Live Web Radio Broadcast, and on MSNBC's March 21 Scarborough Country program.  According to the New York Sun, Duke said in an email, "It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started." Duke added that "the task before us is to wrest control of America's foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish
Walt responded: "I have always found Mr. Duke's views reprehensible, and I am sorry he sees this article as consistent with his view of the world."
Duke organized a gathering of "European Nationalists" who signed the New Orleans Protocol on May 29, 2004. The signatories agreed to avoid infighting among far-right racialists.
On June 3 2005, Duke co-chaired a conference named "Zionism As the Biggest Threat to Modern Civilization" in Ukraine, sponsored by the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP). The conference was attended by several notable Ukrainian public figures and politicians, and writer Israel Shamir (accused of antisemitism by critics).
According to Duke, Swedish police thwarted an attempted assassination against him, in August 2005, while Duke was speaking in Sweden. An anonymous tip to a Swedish radio station led police to the discovery of a powerful explosive device hidden near the podium where Duke was to address a group of Swedish nationalists.
On the weekend of June 8-10, 2006, Duke attended as a speaker at the international "White World's Future" conference in Moscow, which was coordinated and hosted by Pavel Tulaev.
Guilty plea and incarceration
David Duke pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in December 2002. Four months later, Duke was sentenced to 15 months in prison, and he served the time in Big Spring, Texas. He was also fined US $10,000, ordered to cooperate with the IRS, and to pay money still owed for his 1998 taxes. Following his release in May 2004, he stated that his decision to take the plea bargain was motivated by the bias that he perceived in the United States federal court system and not his guilt. He said he felt the charges were contrived to derail his political career and discredit him to his followers, and that he took the safe route by pleading guilty and receiving a mitigated sentence, rather than pleading not guilty and potentially receiving the full sentence.
Duke was charged for what was described by prosecutors as a six-year scheme to dupe thousands of his followers by asking for donations. Through postal mail, Duke later appealed to his supporters that he was about to lose his house and his life savings. Prosecutors claimed that Duke raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in this campaign. Prosecutors also claimed he sold his home at a hefty profit, had multiple investment accounts, and spent much of his money gambling at casinos.
The entire file of court documents related to this case can be found at The Smoking Gun website, including details on the December 12, 2002 guilty plea to federal charges that he filed a false tax return and committed mail fraud.