AZ Politics: - As if there just hasn’t been enough scandal at the Arizona Legislature this year, political observers will get a fresh look this week at two salacious stories that will begin to further unfold.
The House Ethics Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on Tuesday to consider a complaint against Tucson Democrat Daniel Patterson, who is accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
The chairman of the committee, Republican Rep. Ted Vogt, is being tight-lipped about the details of the meeting but hinted that it will involve procedural steps on how to move the complaint forward.
But let’s be honest, it’s really the first meeting in an ethics trial that will seek to remove the lawmaker from office.
Patterson, who pleaded not guilty last week to four misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, doesn’t have many allies left at the Legislature.
Democratic leaders at the Capitol are calling for his ouster, and even the state Democratic Party is urging him to resign. Certainly, the Republican majority on the Ethics Committee is not going to rush to his rescue.
The lawmaker, who has repeatedly denied assaulting his ex-girlfriend in the Feb. 24 altercation, says she attacked him, and that she has a history of domestic violence. According to court records furnished by Patterson and his attorney, Georgette Escobar changed her name in 2008 and has a criminal past involving spousal battery, drugs and theft in California under a different name.
It’s not clear whether Patterson will be at the ethics hearing, and whether he’ll be represented by an attorney there.
His criminal defense attorney, Joe St. Louis, said on Friday that it will not be him defending the lawmaker at the state Capitol. St. Louis said he sticks to criminal court litigation. Patterson also refused to answer whether he would even show up.
The alleged political transgressions move from the Capitol to the courthouse the next day.Former Rep. Richard Miranda is scheduled to appear before a federal judge on Wednesday.
The court docket shows the Phoenix Democrat will have an initial appearance, arraignment and change of plea on charges of wire fraud and tax evasion.
Miranda abruptly resigned from the House last month, citing family and health reasons. He’s been silent ever since. Media reports, however, shed some light on his problems.
The Arizona Republic reported last month that the Internal Revenue Service requested Miranda’s financial-disclosure reports that lawmakers are required to file annually.
And last week the Arizona Guardian reported that the former president of Miranda’s now-defunct nonprofit, AdelanteCampesino, was contacted by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This session has had its share of scandal. In January, Peoria Republican Scott Bundgaard resigned from the Senate, moments before he was scheduled to testify in an ethics trial to determine whether he should be punished for a fight he got into with his ex-girlfriend last year.
So far, allegations of ethical and criminal misconduct have forced two members from the Legislature – Bundgaard and Miranda – and Patterson could be the third. Does anyone remember when elections were the main cause of turnover at the Legislature?
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