Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The House Ethics Committee voted unanimously today to recommend the chamber hire an independent investigator to sort out the domestic violence allegations against Rep. Daniel Patterson and determine if he violated any laws or House rules.
In the first Ethics Committee hearing on the domestic violence allegations launched by Patterson’s former live-in girlfriend and campaign manager, Georgette Escobar, the committee recommended the Speaker of the House of Representatives appropriate money to hire an independent private council to sort out the messy he-said, she-said between the two.
“There are some serious allegations and the complaint that was received was also signed by a significant number of members of the House,” said Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, the Ethics Committee chair. “So it warrants investigation.”
Vogt said he has spoken to the Speaker of the House, who is receptive to paying for the investigation.
The investigator will have to submit a report on March 28, and Patterson’s formal response to the ethics complaint launched against him by fellow Democrats will be due the same day.
Vogt said Patterson had requested another month to respond to the ethics complaint, but the committee decided two weeks was ample time to get a response and the process rolling.
Vogt said he wanted to proceed as quickly as possible with the investigation and hearing, though he didn’t know if the matter would be decided before the session ends. House rules don’t set a timeframe for how quickly ethics investigations must be completed.
Patterson did not attend the hearing, though he voted on bills before the full House just before the committee started.
A criminal hearing is pending in the Tucson City Court. Patterson has pleaded not guilty to four counts of misdemeanor domestic violence.