"Hate group" member seeks GOP nod

ONEIDA, N.Y. ? A vocal opponent of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for the 23rd Congressional District drawing harsh criticism from at least one tribal official.

Rodger Potocki, 58, of New Hartford, announced Feb. 12 that he is seeking the GOP nomination for the 23rd Congressional District. He made the announcement at the Oneida headquarters of the Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE). Potocki has been involved with the group for several years.

Brian Patterson, Bear Clan Member of the Oneida Nation's Men's Council, said Potocki was catering to a small but virulent anti-Indian hate organization and slammed the candidate on his UCE anti-sovereignty platform.

"He advocates nothing less than genocide, which is the destruction of a people or culture," said Patterson in a prepared statement. Patterson added Potocki's comments indicated he would quickly sell out the Constitution, the U.S Supreme Court, the federal courts and the law of the land, all of which have supported Indian sovereignty.

"I don't believe in sovereignty," Potocki said at the announcement. "We should not allow nations within nations of different people, different colors and different religions. I don't accept sovereignty."

The UCE has also been opposed to Oneida Indian Nation land claims and protested Oneida Nation enterprises. The group has been identified as a hate group by several American Indian groups, most recently by United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET).

USET Resolution 2002:036, adopted Jan. 31, identifies the UCE as having joined forces with Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance and the United Property Owners. The resolution states these groups have employed tactics and hate crimes similar to those that have been used against Africans, Jews, Latinos and Asians. These include economic boycotts, spying, public ridicule, ethnic slurs and threats of violence. USET vowed that it would provide evidence to the President of the United States and the media in condemning the UCE and its sympathizers for their "deplorable actions."

Founded in 1989, USET is an inter-tribal organization comprised of 24 federally recognized tribes.

Potocki has been an executive assistant to the mayor of Utica and a past director of planning and community development of the city of Rome, executive vice president of the Oneida County Industrial Development Corp., regional manager and vice president of the Family Golf Centers, Inc. and his own business development and consulting firm, The Potocki Group in New Hartford.

Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a 20-year incumbent, currently holds the 23rd District seat. He has said his solid record, dedication to all his constituents, and seniority will pose serious challenges to Potocki's bid.