Gov. Pete Wilson's remark that the lawyer who advised Indian tribes on Proposition 5 should "lose his scalp" drew indignation from tribal lawyers and leaders Friday.
"It's a deeply offensive remark to Native Americans," said Jerome L. Levine, lawyer for the California Nations Indian Gaming Assn., who took a leading role in drafting Proposition 5. The Nov. 3 initiative would expand Indian casino gambling in California.
"The governor is displaying his usual sensitivity about matters cultural and ethnic," said George Forman, lawyer for a group of tribes supporting the measure.
At a meeting with reporters in Washington on Thursday, Wilson, an outspoken opponent of Proposition 5, said the tribes were wasting millions of dollars on an unconstitutional measure. The lawyer who advised them to put it on the ballot "ought to lose his scalp," he said.
Wilson spokesman Sean Walsh said that the governor was "looking to say the lawyer should have been fired," and that the phrase "was not intended to offend."
Mark Macarro, Pechanga Indian leader, said he was not surprised Wilson would "say something like that. He has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. He's a social doofus."