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Patterson wants apology from legislators after being found not guilty on domestic violence charges

Rep. Daniel Patterson, right, D-Tucson, waits to speak with Rep. Cecil Ash, left, R-Mesa, during a House of Representatives legislative session at the Capitol Monday, April 2, 2012, in Phoenix. Investigators for the Arizona House Ethics Committee are recommending that Patterson be expelled from the House, after a complaint was filed stemming from allegations of domestic violence, but their report released Monday by the House covers a wider array of allegations and topics. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Former Rep. Daniel Patterson said he wants an apology from House members who forced him to resign from the Legislature now that a Tucson City Court judge has found him not guilty on all three charges of domestic violence.

Patterson said the ruling Wednesday by Tucson City Court Judge Wendy Million proves he was railroaded by political opponents who he said conspired to take him down for being independent minded.

Patterson’s problems started in February, after he got into an altercation with his then-girlfriend and campaign manager, Georgette Escobar. As a result, he was charged with three counts of domestic violence and fellow Democrats filed an ethics complaint against him.

The House Ethics Committee hired an independent investigator to look into Patterson’s behavior. The resulting report detailed wide-ranging ethical violations and allegations of harassment and intimidation of other lawmakers. He resigned in April, just minutes before a full House vote on his expulsion.

Tucson City Prosecutor Baird Greene said the not guilty verdict may have something to do with the fact that Patterson’s accuser didn’t show up to press charges. Court documents show Escobar received civil compensation for her damages.

“The fact that (Escobar) didn’t show up certainly made our task of convincing the court that he should be convicted more difficult and more challenging,” Greene said. “We were undeterred in pursuing the charges, however, because we had an independent eyewitness who saw the assault and other reported behavior, so we proceeded with that evidence. As to what exactly Judge Million based her decision on, I’m just not sure.”

Nevertheless, Patterson said Democratic lawmakers owe him an apology for rushing to judgment and staining his good name. He referred specifically to House Minority Leader Chad Campbell of Phoenix and Reps. Katie Hobbs of Phoenix and Ted Vogt of Tucson.

“No lawfully elected representative should ever be treated like that again,” he said. “[Campbell, Hobbs and Vogt] appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner. I maintained my innocence all along, but the truth didn’t matter to Chad Campbell, it didn’t matter to Katie Hobbs, it didn’t matter to Ted Vogt.”

He added: “I’m open to any apologies they want to make. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I think it’s due.’’

Campbell, who pushed for Patterson’s resignation or expulsion from the House, laughed when asked if he was going to apologize.

“Mr. Patterson was an ongoing problem from day one,” he said. “He was a distraction to the work of the House, and he was a threat to members in the House. Nobody in the Capitol or anywhere else owes Mr. Patterson an apology.”

Hobbs, who filed the original ethics complaint against Patterson, agreed. She said that even if he was found not guilty of the domestic violence charges, the ethics report detailed myriad reasons that he was unfit to serve in elected office.

Patterson said that when the Ethics Committee started to realize the domestic violence charges were weak and that his accuser had recanted her allegations via Facebook, committee members turned to other methods to kick him out of the Legislature, including hiring a biased attorney to produce the ethics report.

“They didn’t give a damn about the voters on the south side of Tucson,” he said. “This was a disrespect to me and it was a disrespect to the voters who elected me.”

He maintained that Vogt had broken Ethics Committee rules and said Vogt should be removed from the post. The Arizona Constitution allows for the ouster of a member for “disorderly behavior” upon a two-thirds vote from the chamber.

Vogt also declined to apologize and said the Ethics Committee, which he chairs, gave Patterson a fair hearing. He said neither the domestic violence allegations nor the ethics report sealed Patterson’s fate in themselves, and the committee’s recommendation for Patterson’s expulsion was based on the sworn testimony of other lawmakers that detailed a pattern of disorderly behavior.

“We did mention that we were concerned about the alleged domestic violence case pending in Tucson, but that was not something we made our decision that he should be expelled off of,” he said.

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