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Former lawmaker Daniel Patterson acquitted of domestic violence

Former Rep. Daniel Patterson (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A judge in Tucson on Wednesday acquitted a former state lawmaker of misdemeanor domestic violence charges just months after he resigned because a House panel recommended his expulsion for ethics lapses.

Former Rep. Daniel Patterson called Wednesday’s verdict on three domestic violence charges a vindication. He called the prosecution a “political witch hunt” and a huge waste of taxpayer resources.

A call seeking comment from the Tucson city prosecutor’s office wasn’t immediately returned.

Patterson was charged after an argument between him and his girlfriend in February turned physical. Police said Patterson alleged that the woman hit him about 20 times on his head and chest, and the woman claimed that Patterson pulled her out of her car.

The domestic violence allegations prompted an ethics inquiry by the House, which also looked at his behavior in the Legislature.

Patterson resigned in April after the House Ethics Committee recommended that the Tucson independent be expelled for disorderly conduct that included bullying fellow legislators at the Capitol. He was elected as a Democrat but changed his registration to independent before he resigned.

The committee said its recommendation for expulsion was based on findings by an investigator that statements by legislators indicated that Patterson had long engaged in disorderly conduct that included rude behavior at committee meetings, belligerent encounters with fellow lawmakers and misleading one about who supported a bill.

Patterson said Wednesday that the outside investigation was a “piece of garbage” filled with anonymous allegation and said fellow lawmakers acted “in a rush to judgment” that forced him from office without due process.

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