PHOENIX – Rep. Daniel Patterson resigned Wednesday after the House Ethics Committee recommended that he be expelled for what an investigator called a pattern of inappropriate behavior at the Capitol and beyond.
“I have been forced to resign due to the fact that the House has become a very hostile work environment for me,” Patterson said in a letter to House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden. “Due to this, I am no longer able to serve my constituents in the way they deserve.”
Patterson, a Tucson resident who recently left the Democratic Party to become an independent, faced an ethics complaint stemming from allegations that he assaulted a former girlfriend. A special counsel working for Ethics Committee recommended that he be expelled for, among other allegations, intimidating colleagues and legislative staff members, seeking personal favors in exchange for votes and telling members that he smoked marijuana.
Members of the Ethics Committee voted unanimously to recommend that Patterson be expelled despite his argument that House rules call for him to be able to cross-examine those who accused him and that the lawmaker who filed the ethics complaint, Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, didn’t have personal knowledge of the offense she alleged.
“The unfair Ethics Committee violated House rules, my constitutional rights to due process, and would not even allow me a real hearing to defend myself and question accusers,” Patterson said in his letter.
While Patterson argued that the investigator’s report looked at issues beyond the scope of the ethics complaint, Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, chairman of the Ethics Committee, said the common thread is the lawmaker’s inappropriate actions.
“It has always been your behavior that this complaint has been about,” Vogt said during the hearing.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the vice chairman, said Patterson failed to realize the significance of his actions.
“If this behavior were to happen once or twice, I don’t think that rises to the level of recommendation of expulsion,” Farnsworth said. “But when we have 14 members and who knows how many other members who were asked about the issues, that speaks to the broader problem that Mr. Patterson was experiencing.”
Patterson acknowledged that he hasn’t always acted appropriately but said behavior didn’t rise to the level that warrant expulsion.
“My concern here is that I am not saying I’ve been a perfect member in the House of Representatives but to honestly tell you that I have learned from these mistakes,” Patterson told the committee. “I wish that I had some of these things to do over again and I’ll do them differently, but I don’t believe the way I have been painted by some members and by the media as this horrible bad guy is totally accurate.”
Many Democrats had joined calls for Patterson’s resignation or removal, and he suggested that part of the reason was that leaders would prefer to have a Latino represent his district as it has been redrawn by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
“Clearly, it’s no secret that I’ve always been one of the more independent members of the Legislature,” he said, “and I have received pressure over the years from other Democratic lawmakers and from the bosses in the Democratic Party to get in line, and I’ve always resisted that.”
Patterson suggested later that the outcome was determined before the 90-minute hearing.
“Fix was in,” Patterson tweeted after the vote. “Vogt & Ethics Comm OK expel call they wrote before even talking w me; no real hearing allowed; House Rules violated.”