Citing a damning report from an ethics investigation, House Democrats attempted to toss Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, out of the House of Representatives today, only to have the measure blocked by House Republicans—twice.
After the report was released Monday claiming Patterson harassed, threatened and creeped-out a wide collection of lawmakers, legislative staff and lobbyists at the Capitol, Democrats said they were worried for the safety of everyone at the Capitol when they invoked a constitutional provision this morning that allows a lawmaker to be expelled from the Legislature for “disorderly behavior” on a two-thirds vote of the chamber.
The Twitter hashtag #pattersonvote was already abuzz with will-they-won't-they speculation when Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, made a motion on the House floor that the chamber adopt the recommendations in the report, which calls for Patterson’s expulsion from the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, seconded the motion, saying there was no political or personal issues at play in his decision to call for Patterson’s ouster.
He said Patterson has already had due process and there was no reason to postpone the vote any longer.
“Many of us knew something was going on, but until we saw this report, nobody knew the full extent and the pattern here,” Campbell said. “And the pattern is very obvious. This is an ever increasing pattern of irrational and destructive behavior that is starting to affect this body every single day, and it’s not getting any better, it’s getting worse.”
Then Rep. Ted Vogt, the House Ethics Committee chairman, stood and made a substitute motion to expedite the Ethics Committee process so that Patterson had only one week to respond to the report, after which the committee will give a recommendation on how to proceed.
The chamber then took a voice vote and division was called, meaning nobody was on the record officially, but they had to stand to vote.
Overwhelmingly, Democrats voted against the extra time, while Republicans voted to give Patterson one more week to explain himself instead of immediately kicking him out. The measure passed and it appears the next action will come at the April 10 House Ethics Committee hearing.
Notably, Rep. Terri Proud, R-Tucson, who is anything but a Patterson fan, stood in support of the extra time.
She then Tweeted from @terriproud: “Today Democrats filed a Motion to expel Rep. Patterson after a 298 page report of evidence;Republicans voted against it. SO DISAPPOINTED!”
We’re not sure if she was confused or changed her mind, but we're betting she just saw everyone else standing and followed suit.
[Note: Proud called us back this evening to confirm that, yes, she stood up for the substitute motion on accident. She cursed the Republican decision and said she didn't stand for the second substitute motion after she understood what the motion meant.
She said she wants to kick Patterson out of the House and says the vote by Republicans to let him keep roaming the halls without a security escort puts the other members who have given testimony against him, like she has, at risk.
When asked if she would start showing up at work with a gun, as other members have said they would, Proud replied: "I'm always carrying. My problem is they wont let me carry the big shotgun I want to bring."]
Campbell then tried to get members to take an on-the-record roll call vote on Patterson’s ouster, but his second attempt met with a similar fate. Republicans blocked the vote by proposing their own motion—to simply adjourn—and the matter was dead for the day.
A fuming Campbell held a press conference immediately following the floor votes, calling Patterson a threat. He said if they cant throw Patterson out yet, he wants a full security detail, including a daily security frisk when Patterson arrives at the Capitol.
He said Patterson’s pattern of behavior is scaring his members, and doing nothing about it could put people in danger and put the Legislature in danger of a lawsuit.
“I want him out of this office,” Campbell said. “I want him having no contact with any staff, no access to the building, he gets escorted onto the floor for voted and escorted out of the building after votes. That’s the only conditional right he has as an elected official.”
We'll have more from Patterson himself in this week's Skinny column in the print edition.