The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, who is leading the charge to have embattled Rep. Daniel Patterson ousted from office, is married to the sister of Patterson’s assistant – and he is seeking to have the woman removed from Patterson’s office out of fear for her safety.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell sent a letter to House Speaker Andy Tobin today requesting, in part, that Patterson’s assistant, Nicole Soliere, be relieved of her duties as Patterson’s assistant because he feels Patterson is a threat to staff and fellow lawmakers.
Soliere is Campbell’s sister-in-law, though the lawmaker did not disclose that in the two-page letter he wrote seeking to strip Patterson of many of his legislative privileges.
“I want to protect everybody down here,” said Campbell, who added that he has no authority in assigning or removing assistants, and that she was appointed as Patterson’s secretary before Campbell married her sister. “It just happens to be that she is there. She’s the one with the most contact now with him. She’s the only one left that has continual contact with him.”
In addition to asking for Soliere to be removed as Patterson’s assistant, Campbell’s letter requested that Tobin revoke Patterson’s key card access, assign security escorts to Patterson and to take away his office.
Patterson called Campbell’s request absurd, and said Soliere does not feel threatened by him.
“I’ve been talking to her regularly. She doesn’t feel threatened by me at all,” Patterson said. “This has gone too far. This stuff that Chad Campbell is up to, trying to paint me as some dangerous threat, is just absurd.
“I know from my own conversations with her that she doesn’t have those feelings,” Patterson said.
Soliere could not immediately be reached for comment.
The House split along party lines Tuesday involving a Democratic motion to immediately expel Patterson from the Legislature over allegations of domestic violence and a pattern of alleged aggressive behavior that was documented in an investigative report earlier this week.
But Republicans in the chamber agreed to speed up a pending ethics trial against Patterson.
The Tucson lawmaker, who changed his party registration from Democrat to independent this week, was charged last month with four counts of domestic violence in connection to a fight he got into with his ex-girlfriend.
Patterson has maintained his innocence and is fighting the charges and ethics violations.
Democratic lawmakers told the Arizona Capitol Times Tuesday that members have begun carrying firearms to the Capitol grounds for fear of their safety. Patterson has called those fears “ridiculous.”
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