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Modrall Sperling Partner Resigns over ‘General Custer’ Email

Posted Sep 4, 2012 7:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: A vice president of Modrall Sperling in Albuquerque, N.M., has resigned from the law firm because of an email claiming the governor dishonored General George Armstrong Custer by attending a summit with tribal leaders.

The firm announced the resignation of Pat Rogers in a statement by its president, R.E. Thompson, the Albuquerque Journal (sub. req.) reports. “Recent revelations of private email communications have distracted from our mission, and Pat Rogers has tendered his resignation from the firm,” the statement said. “His resignation has been accepted, and we thank him for years of service of behalf of our clients.”

Rogers sent the email to lawyers and other staffers for Gov. Susana Martinez in June, but it didn’t receive publicity until late August when the Democratic-leaning group ProgressNow New Mexico picked it up, the Albuquerque Journal reported in an earlier story. “Quislings, French surrender monkeys. … The state is going to hell,” Rogers wrote in part of the email posted by Indian Country Today. The Republican candidate for governor in 2010 “would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.” Rogers is a Republican National Committeeman.

Custer is known for killing American Indians in the Indian Wars until his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Indian Country Today explains. “Quislings” is a World War II word meaning traitors, while “French surrender monkeys” from the Simpsons TV show implies cowardice, the Albuquerque Journal says.

Rogers defended the email in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal. “I made a poor attempt at humor in a private email, and it’s being twisted by a partisan group,” he said. “I certainly intended no offense, but I do apologize.”

The executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, Pat Davis, said in a statement that the email shows “the contempt and disrespect New Mexico’s Republican leadership has for our Native people,” according to Indian Country Today.

Judge Samuel Winder of Albuquerque, a Native American, told the Albuquerque Journal he previously worked with Rogers in private practice and he never heard him make a racist remark. “I do not believe that Pat has any racist attitudes toward anyone,” Winder said, emphasizing that he was speaking for himself rather than on behalf of the bench.

Modrall Sperling's statement was lengthened on Sept. 5 at the request of the firm's marketing director, who said a shorter version had changed the meaning. Additional information was added to the story on the same date.

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