Pat Rogers, the Republican National Committee (RNC) executive committee member who said that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was “dishonored” when Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez met with tribal leaders, has been forced to resign from his law firm.
Pressure had been mounting on both Rogers and the firm, Modrall Sperling, since August 24 when Rogers’ pro-Custer statements he wrote in a personal e-mail to the governor’s staff were publicized by liberal advocacy organizations.
In a statement, firm president R.E. Thompson, said that he accepted Rogers’ resignation on August 31.
"Recent revelations of private e-mail communications have distracted from our mission, and Pat Rogers has tendered his resignation from the Firm," Thompson said.
Rogers’ words have also been a distraction for top Republicans, who are trying this election season to portray themselves as a big-tent party. Still, Rogers remains in his position at the RNC, despite calls from American Indians and others for his dismissal.
“The state is going to hell,” Rogers wrote in part of his now infamous e-mail, referring to Martinez’ tribal meeting. “Col. [Allen] Weh would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.” Weh was a Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico who unsuccessfully ran against Martinez in 2010, and he has also denounced Rogers’ words, as has Martinez. Weh is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Colonel.
Rogers told the Albuquerque Journal that he resigned “with great sadness,” and he previously told the newspaper that his e-mail was meant to be a joke.
In July, Rogers was also forced to resign from the board of a state group, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, after his role in another e-mail scandal was investigated. He had been criticized for using personal e-mail accounts to contact state government officials attempting to influence their decision-making–a practice that carries questions under state law.
American Indians have generally been pleased to learn of his resignation from the firm, but some think the RNC must take action, too.
“I do think the RNC should show some respect to Native Americans and [show] that they take our issues seriously by asking him to resign, especially after coming out with that platform ‘Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians,’” said Rhonda LeValdo-Gayton, the Acoma Pueblo president of the Native American Journalists Association. “If they don't, that goes directly against what that platform stands for.”