Arizona Dem undergoes ethics investigation, legislators call for his dismissal

• April 3, 2012 4:07 pm


ANCHOR: Independent attorneys looking into alleged ethics violations by a Tucson lawmaker say that Daniel Patterson has to go. Once a Democrat, Patterson changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent today.

REPORTER: A 33-page report by the ethics committee investigators goes far beyond the domestic violence incident that led to the ethics complaint against Rep. Patterson. Investigators’ allegations are sweeping, startling, and even scary.

STATE REP. CHAD CAMPBELL: It’s been a pattern down here, that’s part of the problem.

REPORTER: Rep. Daniel Patterson’s behavior in the House for the last two years was under the microscope for House ethics investigators. But this was the incident that launched the investigation:

GEORGETTE ESCOBAR: This is the first time he’s actually physically assaulted me, and it will also be the last.

REPORTER: Patterson’s live-in girlfriend, Georgette Escobar, accused him of striking her during a quarrel in February outside their Tucson home. But last week, in a strange twist, Escobar recanted the charges on her Facebook page. Ethics investigators now say Patterson was involved. "It seems obvious," they say, "that he somehow forged, forced, or cajoled Escobar to recant her abuse allegations in an effort to end this investigation." Investigators also spoke to Patterson’s fellow House members, as well as lobbyists and staffers who work with him. Their report says: "Some of his colleagues so fear for their personal safety, they have taken actions such as securing a weapon and requesting additional security." One legislative staffer recalled seeing Patterson "freak out" during a committee discussion. He eventually ran to his office, shut the door, and began "ranting and raving."

STATE REP. KATIE HOBBS: I mean, since I made the complaint I’ve made extra precaution for my safety—I’m right down the hall from him, I don’t walk past his office.

REPORTER: This afternoon, Patterson was at his desk in the House of Representatives, isolated in a corner of the room. The Tucson lawmaker let his Twitter feed do the talking, slamming ethics committee attorney Mike Manning and also revealing he has left the Democratic and is now an independent.

REPORTER: House Democrats say Patterson’s departure shouldn’t end there.

CAMPBELL: He needs to resign. And if not, we need to remove him without any delay down here.

REPORTER: Rep. Patterson would not speak to me on camera, but he told me in a phone interview that he is being denied his due process rights. He specifically denied having anything to do with Georgette Escobar’s recantation.

ANCHOR: So what happens now?

REPORTER: What happens now is he has until April 16, two more weeks, to respond to the ethics complaints and ethics committee. House Democrats don’t want to wait that long; they want to have a vote tomorrow morning on expelling Daniel Patterson.

Published under: Crime Blotter, Video