This won’t be a routine state party meeting this Saturday in Tucson.
We will be considering the following resolution, which is derived after negotiations with the state party to get it onto the agenda from a resolution a number of us came together to craft:
WHEREAS, over 25% of women in the United States have been or will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime,
WHEREAS, according to the domestic Violence Resource Center, estimates range from 600,000 to 6 million women are physically abused by husbands or boyfriends every year, with the vast majority of instances unreported because of fear,
WHEREAS, more than 3 women are killed every day in the United States during episodes of domestic violence,
WHEREAS, domestic violence is too serious an issue with which to play partisan politics or selectively ignore according to partisan allegiance,
BE IT RESOLVED that the Arizona State Democratic Committee vehemently condemns all acts of domestic violence by anyone, regardless of political party.
The original resolution named names. This somewhat watered down version is the result of negotiations involving state party chair Andrei Cherney, but to his credit he is now allowing this to go forward. A bit of background may help flesh this out.
A Republican, Senator Scott Bundgaard, has been in the news quite a lot lately after an incident on a Phoenix roadway in which, according a police report, he beat up his girlfriend, Aubrey Ballard. Bundgaard has been condemned by the state Democratic party and many others for this action, which he rightly should be.
A Democrat, Representative Daniel Patterson, has not been condemned because he's been flying under the radar, so to speak, and like most in the state I had no clue about this until last month. Personally, I've always liked Representative Patterson and used to read his blog. He's been a great vote on everything from the evironment to protecting schools and I believe he is a genuine progressive. I met him once-- two months ago in Phoenix when he made a great speech outside the legislature during a protest on behalf of public employees. None of that prepared me for what I ran across on the Three Sonorans blog on March 9, a blog post including pictures of several police reports that have been filed against Representative Patterson, including one this past December involving a domestic violence episode involving his (now ex) wife, Jeneiene Schaffer. Most troubling in the Three Sonorans article was the allegation that state and Pima county party officials as well as leaders in the legislature have known about Representative Patterson's behavior including at least two incidents of violence involving his wife for sometime and chose to kick it under the rug and deter any serious inquiry about it.
I don't believe in giving someone a mulligan because they are a good vote on the environment. It is always wrong for a man to use force or threaten to use force against a woman, but also believing in fairness I decided the best course to take would be to ask Representative Patterson about it. So, I went to his facebook page and he had, as luck (or maybe pre-emptiveness, who can know?) would have it, he put up a post that day regarding his co-sponsorship of a domestic violence resolution.
That facebook page is here:
Daniel Patterson's March 9 facebook post on domestic violence.
I am here cutting and pasting the transcription of that conversation including his response:
Daniel's Profile • Daniel's Wall
Daniel R. Patterson
My bipartisan work against domestic violence in #Arizona http://bit.ly/eUZvU5 #Tucson
March 9 at 9:26am via TweetDeck •LikeUnlike •
Eli Blake I'm sure you'll erase this comment but I am very disappointed in what I read online a moment ago from the three Sonorans.
March 9 at 9:59pm • LikeUnlike
Daniel R. Patterson So am I. It is not true.
March 10 at 9:37am • LikeUnlike
I wish I could save a screenshot but unfortunately this computer won't allow me to do that.
Representative Patterson did not erase my comment, and he denied that this was true. Fair enough. Anyone can write anything on a blog after all, and it is necessary for those of us who are bloggers to police ourselves. Some bloggers do a better job than others of making sure that everything they write is factually correct. And even if it is, blogs by definition reflect one person's view of the world and don't try to keep things balanced. So if all that came out about this was the Three Sonorans piece I'd have to give Representative Patterson the benefit of the doubt.
However, that wasn't all there was of this. First, the police reports photographed in the article, do in fact, exist. I verified this with some folks down there. Then it turned out that there was an article about his penchant for violence two years ago in the Tucson paper. Then another newspaper, the Arizona Guardian published a story on Daniel Patterson. Most importantly, the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence called on Representative Patterson as well as Senator Bundgaard to resign from the legislature. I trust the ACADV and know they would not make a call like that without having good facts to back it up.
Turned out that I wasn't the only person thoroughly disgusted with both Rep. Patterson and with the state party's calls for Sen. Bundgaard to step down while knowing full well that we had exactly the same dirty laundry to take care of in our own house. To create a double standard here is to turn domestic violence into a political football that it is too much of an important issue to be turned into.
Several of us, including primarily myself, Diane D'Angelo, Pat Fleming and Judy Nagle began to coalesce around the basic premise that this needs to be brought out into the open so that the rank and file in our party (not to mention voters) at least know about it, and that we feel that some of the leadership in the state and Pima county party should not be supporting, much less covering up for, a man who has been accused of beating his wife. True that he has not been charged for that but at the same time his contention that the police reports are false (all of them?) just doesn't hold water. Yes, you can certainly find anyone who lives in a black or latino neighborhood who could probably relate to you a story about someone they know who was written up falsely by the police, but this involved several different officers over several years and rep. Patterson sounds less than convincing when he contends that the police reports are false.
Let me add here, that it is no secret that Representative Patterson has been dating his campaign manager for at least the past year. I don't care about someone's affair or their messy divorce (that's between them and their spouse) but I DO care about one other issue that came up out of all this: Representative Patterson has not been paying his child support. He did make a March payment after all of this came up but he's still two months in arrears. It would be one thing if he was unable to make child support payments (I've known some men who actually were unable to because of loss of income or illness) but he has been employed the whole time, and has chosen to deny payments both to his wife and for the raising of their daughter. That's not specifically what this resolution is about but it is a real and ongoing concern.
As I said, there are quite a few of us who came together to push this forward. Former Representative Fleming has agreed to read the proposed resolution on the floor. The plan is for others who feel that domestic violence is wrong regardless of who is doing it, to stand behind her while she is reading it. I for one will do so proudly. The Democratic Party has always been the party of the powerless against the oppressor, and it is worth remembering that oppression can happen just as much in a home or an apartment as it can happen in a society or in a workplace.