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Dem leader: Fear among lawmakers could lead to Patterson expulsion Tuesday

Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (File photo)

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell says he may seek for the expulsion of Rep. Daniel Patterson as soon as Tuesday because some members of his caucus believe their lives are in danger as long as Patterson remains an elected official.

“I have people who are afraid they’re going to get killed. There’s people down here who are afraid for their lives with Daniel Patterson down here,” Campbell said.

“I’ve got members who don’t want him on the floor – and certainly not in the back row.”

Campbell would not say which Democrats had expressed concerns about their safety, but said they had all spoken with House security.

In a voice mail message, Patterson called Campbell’s claims “ridiculous” and said he isn’t dangerous.

“I’m not a threat to anyone. There’s no reason for anyone to be concerned,” he said in the message. “I think it’s outrageous how low people will stoop with these ridiculous allegations.”

One Democratic legislator who said she is afraid is Rep. Katie Hobbs, the lawmaker who filed an ethics complaint against Patterson in February. Her office is down the hall from Patterson’s, and she said she won’t walk past it alone if she thinks he is still in the building.

Hobbs, a social worker who spent more than a decade working with domestic violence victims, said those who commit domestic violence “escalate” their behavior when they feel they are losing control. She said she believes Patterson is unstable and that his escalation “could include going postal with a gun.”

In 2010, Patterson’s then-wife alleged in an application for a restraining order that the lawmaker has numerous unregistered firearms, including “hand guns, AK (47)s, shotguns (and) rifles.” In the court records, Jeneiene Schaffer said she was fearful that Patterson would harm her and the couple’s daughter.

Campbell said he asked House Speaker Andy Tobin today to bar Patterson from the building, except to allow him to attend floor sessions and vote – but only if there is a security detail present. He said Tobin did not give him an immediate response.

Tobin said he understands that some Democrats are afraid and said he was working to address the situation.

“I think it’s my obligation to make sure that members are secure and not afraid in the building. I will do that,” he said.

Tobin said he was considering Campbell’s request, but had not decided how to proceed.

Patterson is the subject of a House ethics investigation stemming from an incident in late February in which he allegedly assaulted an ex-girlfriend. A report commissioned by the Ethic Committee that was released today outlines a pattern of misconduct that the investigators said warrants his expulsion from the chamber.

The House can expel any member with a two-thirds vote.

Though the typical ethics complaint process would not reach the floor until after the Ethics Committee conducts a hearing into the investigation, Campbell said he wanted to speed up the process because Rep. Ted Vogt, the chairman of the Ethics Committee, said he would give Patterson until April 16 to respond to the report.

Campbell said the report paints a clear picture that Patterson “has a continual pattern of lying” and gives lawmakers all the information they need to expel the Tucson lawmaker.

“We now have a one-stop-shop to show what’s wrong with Daniel Patterson’s behavior,” he said.

But Tobin expressed concerns about rushing to punish Patterson before the Ethics Committee completes its work.

“It’s really awkward for me,” he said. “They would like him gone yesterday. I get that. They don’t like him. I get that, too…

“But he’s supposed to get some due process. This isn’t just about Mr. Patterson. It would be unprecedented.”

Tobin said he hopes to work out a compromise that speeds up the Ethics Committee proceedings and avoids Democrats making a motion to expel Patterson before the committee has finished its investigation.

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