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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news September 15, 2014

2/28/2012 9:56:00 AM
Pressure mounts for Tucson Rep. Daniel Patterson to resign

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- The head of the state Democratic Party and the top House Democrat called on Tucson Rep. Daniel Patterson on Monday to step down in the face of allegations of a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.

Patterson said he's not going anywhere. And he said the comments by his party's officials "cutthroat politics' and said they have a "lynching mob mentality,' more interested in the Democratic political agenda than in his protestations of innocence.

But the final choice may not be his.

Late Monday, Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee asking for an investigation, citing the allegations made by Georgette Escobar in seeking -- and getting -- an order of protection against Patterson. And the complaint, signed by all the other House Democrats except for the two who sit on the Ethics Committee, says this incident, if true, would "appear to be part of a pattern of inappropriate conduct,' citing an order of protection Patterson's ex-wife obtained against him during their divorce.

The Ethics Committee is empowered to investigate violations of state law as well any conduct which violates the public trust or adversely reflects on the House. If the panel finds him guilty, it can recommend the full House impose a penalty ranging from a reprimand to expulsion.

The dust-up follows what Patterson acknowledged was a dispute between him and his girlfriend, one that resulted in him kicking her out of his house. He said Escobar acted irrationally and, because the house is his, he had a right to kick her out.

But the order of protection, signed by City Magistrate Susan Shetter, gives her exclusive access to the house on South Railroad Avenue to be able to remove her furniture.

Patterson said he was interviewed by Tucson police officers.

"I have not been charged with any crime,' he said. And Patterson said he has not been served with any legal papers.

Patterson said he is being blackmailed.

"She's demanded money (to drop the order of protection) and I don't owe her any money,' Patterson. "My lawyer is dealing with it.'

Escobar did not return repeated calls seeking comment. But Barbara Tellman, with whom she is living -- and who is also covered by the protective order -- said Escobar wants only her furniture.

Tellman said Patterson does owe money to Escobar, who served as his campaign chair.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said it is irrelevant about who it telling the truth.

"The ongoing issues, the ongoing distractions I think are just too much,' Campbell said.

"They're preventing, I think, Mr. Patterson and the caucus to do the work of the people, which is why we're elected,' he continued. "I think it's in his best interests as well as the people of the state that he step down and maybe work on some of the personal issues he's going through and make sure everything's right in that house and deal with the legal system, as it were, if necessary.'

Separately, Luis Heredia, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, put out a statement saying that the legal issues Patterson faces "render him unable to fully serve the voters of Legislative District 29.'

Patterson said that's not true, saying he can do his job at the Capitol, "especially once my lawyer clears up these frivolous allegations.' And he lashed out at both Campbell and Heredia.

"I'm entitled to due process,' Patterson said. "And for politicians to rush to judgment to try to throw somebody under the bus is disturbing.'

He also said that it's wrong for party leaders in Phoenix to pass judgment on how well he can represent his Tucson district.

"If this is the way the Democratic Party in Phoenix is going to treat their members, just in this knee-jerk reaction, perhaps I'll become an independent,' Patterson said. "I'm not going to back down.'

Campbell, however, said the call is justified.

"From the perspective of doing the work of the people, at a time when I think we're just starting to turn Arizona around, and hopefully we can address some of the serious issues we've been avoiding down here for the last several years, we need people that can spend their full time down here and be committed to the work of the people,' he said. "I feel with all these ongoing distractions, Mr. Patterson probably can't do that right now.'

The Hobbs complaint comes less than a year after similar charges were filed in the Senate Ethics Committee against Scott Bundgaard. That followed an incident in the median of a Phoenix freeway where Bundgaard was accused of pulling his girlfriend from his vehicle and hitting her.

Bundgaard eventually pleaded "no contest' to a single charge of endangerment. But he did not resign until mid-way through the Ethics Committee hearing.

Patterson said the comparisons are not valid.

"This is nothing like the Bundgaard incident,' he said.

Hobbs, in alleging a "pattern of inappropriate conduct,' raised the issue of an order of protection issued against Patterson during his divorce. Patterson said that order was in effect "for a short period of time and was quickly squashed' during what he called "a very ugly divorce last year.'

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Article comment by: Patricia Puig

I am not making judgement if he is guilty or not guilty and I know that we cannot make him step down but, I don't think he should not waste his time running again because the domestic violence will surely be brought up.

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: Lee Cali

Hey, good for the Demos. They won't take ethical violations even from one of their own. Do you ever see Republicans doing this?

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: Go Independent

I don't care what his personal life is. If his "party" doesn't like him but the people elect him he should be independent.
Both political parties are out of hand and out of date. We need to vote for individuals, not some party plank.

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