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Ethics panel hires special investigators for Patterson case

House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Vogt, R-Tucson

The Arizona House of Representatives announced today that it would hire attorneys Michael Manning, Craig A. Morgan and Sharon Ng of Kansas City-based firm Stinson Morrison Hecker to investigate an ethics complaint against Rep. Daniel Patterson, who is facing criminal charges of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend.

The hiring of outside attorneys comes after the House Ethics Committee met for the first time on the case on March 13, where the committee’s members voted unanimously to use independent attorneys for the case.

House Speaker Andy Tobin said he thinks using independent attorneys is the most efficient way to handle the ethics complaint, but he said it’s not clear whether the entire ethics case will be wrapped up by the end of the legislative session, which he expects to happen by mid- or late April.

The committee also voted unanimously to give the Tucson Democrat until March 28 to amend his response to the ethics complaint made against him.

Patterson sent a letter March 12 to Ethics Committee Chairman Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, saying he intends to fight the ethics complaint. He asked to have until April 12 to formally respond to it.

But Vogt said he didn’t believe that much time would be necessary.

“In Mr. Patterson’s letter, he had requested additional time – 30 days from yesterday – which I think is a little bit long,” Vogt said. “He’s had two weeks to reply. He filed what I distributed to all of you (referring to Patterson’s March 12 letter). There does not seem to be any substance in there.”

Vogt wouldn’t speculate about how long the entire process will take or whether it could be finished before the end of this year’s legislative session. He only said that he would work to have it finished as quickly as possible.

The Ethics Committee also recommended that the special investigators produce an evidentiary report for the committee by March 28.

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