House Ethics Committee to take up Patterson complaint

April 10, 2012

The Arizona House Ethics Committee this morning will take up the complaint against Democrat-turned-Independent Representative Daniel Patterson of Tucson. But it’s not clear what form that will take. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

Rep. Daniel Patterson Rep. Daniel Patterson listens to discussion of legislation Tuesday on the House floor after turning in his response to the investigative report commission by the House Ethics Committee, which recommended he be expelled. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

MARK BRODIE: The panel had been scheduled to discuss the issue yesterday, but decided to give its members more time to read Patterson’s response to the committee’s investigative report. Patterson, meanwhile, continued to call for an actual hearing, at which he could call and cross-examine witnesses.

DANIEL PATTERSON: This issue goes far beyond me, as an individual legislator, and it is now in the realm of potentially being a very destructive precedent for the state, where politicians and lobbyists get together, and decide they don’t like somebody, and they’re gonna throw them out. Perhaps even without a hearing.

BRODIE: Patterson says he doesn’t trust the committee’s independent investigative report, and says he should have the opportunity to ask and answer questions from the committee. But the panel’s chairman, Ted Vogt, says he’s not sure that’ll happen.

TED VOGT: We’ve got the benefit of the independent report, we’ve also got Mr. Patterson’s comments. In terms of clarity, what is that gonna add for the members? I’m not certain.

BRODIE: The ethics committee had been expected to make its decision based solely on the report, and Patterson’s response. And, while Vogt says the panel might go a bit farther than that, he says it wouldn’t be by much, and he does not expect a full-blown hearing. But Patterson isn’t the only lawmaker calling for that. Republican Representatives Cecil Ash and John Fillmore this week sent a letter to House Speaker Andy Tobin, expressing concern about a lack of due process. Fillmore says there seems to be a rush to judgment in this case.

JOHN FILLMORE: It is not illegal to be abrasive, or, with all due respect, I don’t mean this as it sounds, a jerk

BRODIE: The original ethics complaint against Patterson filed in February was based on allegations of domestic violence involving his then-girlfriend. But, the ethics committee’s report also outlined instances of alleged abusive and unethical behavior at the house. Patterson acknowledges there are times in which he’s had a temper, but says he’s working to tone down his rhetoric, and that nothing he’s done has violated house rules.

PATTERSON: Certainly there have been moments at the House of Representatives where, if I had some things to do over again, I would do them differently. I have apologized to members here for people feeling offended or intimidated. But, it is never my intention to intentionally offend or intimidate anyone.

BRODIE: When the ethics committee meets later today, it could recommend a series of penalties for Patterson, including expulsion. Any punishment, though, would have to be approved by the full House of Representatives.

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