PHOENIX - The state's newest lawmaker will be a political independent.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors will appoint an independet to fill the seat of former state legislator Daniel Patterson. Patterson resigned last week under a barrage of criticism for his behavior and minutes before a state ethics committee was on the brink of voting to expel him.
Patterson was elected as a Democrat in District 29, which is largely on the city's southside, but had registered as an independent shortly before resigning.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett wrote the board of supervisors that the law "is clear" requiring the supervisors to appoint an independent because that was Patterson's party affiliation when he resigned last week.
That means Democrats, already a minority in the Legislature, will be down one more seat.
The supervisors will appoint a committee of people who live in Patterson's Tucson district who also are not registered with a party. This panel - the law does not specify how many - will accept and review applications from other district independents and forward the names of three nominees to the supervisors.
Patterson faced accusations of inappropriate behavior with fellow state legislators. Additionally he is entangled with accusations of domestic violence by his ex-wife and a former girlfriend who has since recanted.
An independent lawyer, appointed by the Republican legislature, issued a scathing report of Patterson. The report said Patterson harrassed and intimidated fellow legislators.
Patterson said he felt he had no choice to resign. He said the Ethics Committee refused to allow him to present a full case of his own and cross-examine witnesses, violating its own rules.
Patterson was elected as a Democrat in 2008 and 2010.