WASHINGTON – Pat Rogers, a Republican National Committee (RNC) leader, is facing calls for his dismissal after telling the staff of Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., that because she agreed to meet with American Indian tribes in the state, she disrespected the memory of Col. George Armstrong Custer. The infamous U.S. Army commander killed many American Indians during what are historically known as the Indian Wars. He died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Rogers, in Tampa, Fla., for the upcoming Republican National Convention, is a GOP lobbyist and recent member of the RNC Executive Committee. He was appointed to that post by now-former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who faced his own Indian-themed controversy after using the phrase “honest injun."
Rogers made the Custer-friendly statement in an e-mail obtained by the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico. “The state is going to hell,” Rogers wrote in the e-mail. “Col. [Allen] Weh would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.” Weh was a Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico in 2010, who ran against Martinez. Rogers sent the e-mail after Martinez met with the state’s tribes in June.
“Such a blatantly racist statement against our Native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country’s largest corporations is indefensible,” said Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico.
“Well, there’s an entirely different angle to this,” added Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer and chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. “I think you could argue that when Gov. Martinez met with Pat Rogers, she disrespected the memory of intelligent people everywhere.”
Rogers was forced to resign in July from the board of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, after he allegedly used personal e-mail accounts to influence decisions by state government officials