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Ethics Committee: Expel Patterson

Reps. Eddie Farnsworth (left) and Ted Vogt (center) question Rep. Daniel Patterson (seen from behind) during a two-hour discussion about the ethics charges against Patterson. (Photo by Josh Coddington/Arizona Capitol Times)

After two hours of back-and-forth discussion, the House Ethics Committee today voted to recommend Rep. Daniel Patterson’s expulsion from the House of Representatives, and one committee member said to expect a full House vote on the recommendation later this afternoon.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, who made the motion to adopt the expulsion recommendation, said the key issue in his decision was the pattern of repeated conduct that violates rules of conduct for House members.

Farnsworth pointed out that 14 lawmakers described their hostile interactions in the report produced for the Ethics Committee by prominent Valley attorney Michael Manning, who was hired to lead the investigation into the ethics charges brought against Patterson.

During today’s hearing, Ethics Committee members focused heavily on the signed declarations by House members, which described aggressive interactions with Patterson and behavior that violates the rules of conduct.

Patterson defended himself by saying he disagreed with how his behavior was described, despite the corroboration by several members.

Farnsworth and Rep. Ted Vogt, who chairs the Ethics Committee, said that either Patterson had to admit to the behavior or claim the other lawmakers were lying.

Patterson refused to say the members were lying, instead chalking it up to a matter of perspective. And he said that after incidents that others described as disorderly or offensive, he often apologized to members, and said he thought that’s how the legislative process should work.

Patterson also repeatedly said he was trying to “work on his rhetoric,” and promised to continue to do so.

His appeals never appeared to sway Ethics Committee members from the belief that the pattern of behavior outlined was sufficient to recommend expulsion.

Near the end of his testimony but before the vote to recommend expulsion, Patterson said that he would consider suing the state if they choose to expel him.

“I will have to resist as strongly as possible,” Patterson said.

House Ethics Committee member Rep. Debbie McCune Davis said she expects the full House to vote on Patterson’s fate later today.

The ethics charges against Patterson were filed after the City of Tucson charged Patterson with four counts of domestic violence last month, which followed an altercation between Patterson and his ex-girlfriend in February.

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