Rep. Daniel Patterson lashed out against his colleagues today, saying that he was the victim of a “lynch mob mentality” and that some members were going to “look very foolish” when the truth came out.
The Tucson Democrat said that he would not be “bullied” into stepping down or reconsidering his bid for re-election this fall, despite being dogged by accusations of domestic violence.
His former live-in girlfriend and campaign manager, Georgette Escobar, has claimed that Patterson assaulted her on Friday after they broke up, pulling her from her car and throwing her to the ground.
But Patterson told the Arizona Capitol Times that he was the victim, not the aggressor, in the altercation.
The progressive blog Three Sonorans on Sunday posted that Escobar had taken out a restraining order against Patterson, and Democrats in the Legislature Monday began calling for him to resign. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said that his personal issues were becoming a “distraction” from their work.
When Patterson said he didn’t intend to resign, Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, filed an ethics complaint signed by all but two members of the Democratic Caucus, saying that Patterson had demonstrated a pattern of violent behavior.
In 2010, Patterson’s then-wife accused him of domestic violence as part of a bitter divorce battle, but he was never charged with a crime.
To issue such a dramatic call and file an ethics complaint based on a single blog post was “reckless,” Patterson said, adding that the motivation was purely political.
“It’s a toxic atmosphere in politics,” he said. “People want to elevate themselves by throwing someone else under the bus.”
“I’m well known to be one of the more independent members of the Democratic caucus, and some of the Democratic party bosses in Phoenix don’t like that,” he added. “Maybe they’re hoping to replace me with a yes-man who will toe the party line.”
Hobbs, a social worker who is running for the Senate, especially stands to gain from filing the ethics complaint, he said.
“Katie has always been a crusader on these types of issues,” he said. “Maybe this is something she thinks will help her in her Senate campaign.”
The ethics complaint calls for an investigation into the recent charges and the ones made by his ex-wife, Jeneiene Schaffer, in 2010.
Patterson sent an email to House Democrats late Monday night, saying “The truth will come out. You should not rush to judgment, please.”
From: Daniel Patterson [DPatterson@azleg.gov] Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 11:46 PM
To: Daniel Patterson
Subject: The truth
Colleagues — The allegations against me are lies. I have not been arrested, charged, served or invoked immunity.
It seems I am being blackmailed by a person with bad mental health problems and a violent criminal history I only recently realized the severity of. When I asked this person to please consider moving out of my house, to protect my daughter, she went in to a rage. She attacked me, but I never hit her.
The truth will come out. You should not rush to judgment, please.
Members, I ask you please to call me to discuss my side of the story, the truth.
Rep. Daniel Patterson
Patterson flatly denied the charges by both women, saying that his only transgression was being a poor judge of character.
“I’m not a threat to anybody,” he said. “I’m sure that every member at the Capitol has something in their personal life that someone could raise issue with.”
He said that he had recently learned that Escobar had “some serious mental health problems” and a “violent criminal past,” and told her that he didn’t think they should continue living together. She responded by “going into a rage,” he said.
“She punched and kicked me at least 20 or 30 times, and she pulled my hair,” he said.
Patterson would not say what he believed to be Escobar’s criminal past.
He has said repeatedly that he is being blackmailed by Escobar, who, during their breakup, demanded that he give her “thousands of dollars.”
But he acknowledged that there wasn’t an overt threat attached to the demand.
“I can’t recall exactly (what she said), it was implied,” Patterson said. “It definitely seemed like a blackmail situation.”
He said that he didn’t know where the bruises on Escobar’s arms came from. She showed them to KPNX-TV Channel 12 during an interview Monday. They could be self-inflicted, he said, or she could have gotten them while assaulting him.
He also denied that there were eyewitnesses to the scuffle, which happened outside his property, and said that he was the one who called the police, to protect him from Escobar. He added that he had to call police again Monday night, because she broke through his gate and entered his property, and he felt threatened.
“She attacked me, badly… It was a pretty severe attack,” he said, adding that he called the police after the first incident but they left without making any arrests or issuing any citations. The officers who responded asked him if he was injured, and he told them that he wasn’t, because he said he didn’t feel like he needed any medical treatment.
Despite the calls for his resignation from the state Democratic Party, Patterson said that he has gotten support from his constituents in Tucson, who have sent him emails and Facebook messages telling him not to step down.