State Senator Dan Patrick accused of employing illegal immigrants
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There are explosive allegations in the hard fought increasingly bitter campaign for Texas lieutenant governor. One candidate claims State Senator Dan Patrick employed illegal immigrants in a restaurant he owned before getting into politics. Now years later, Patrick's opposition to illegal immigrants is a cornerstone of his campaign.
Miguel Andrade is a proud American. At least he is now, but decades ago he was here in this country illegally and claims to remember his days working for Patrick very well. Tonight with Texans considering a vote for Patrick, his opponent, Jerry Patterson, wants voters to hear from Andrade.
"Voters will disagree with those of us who seek public office, but what they really detest is someone who won't be straight with them, who changes their story based on the venue or the time," Patterson said.
Lt. Governor Candidate Jerry Patterson hired a private investigator to track Andrade down in Houston.
"I met Mr. Dan Patrick the first day when I start working," said Andrade.
In the mid-1980s, Mike Andrade says he went to work at Patrick's brand new Houston sports bar.
"Dan Patrick & Nick's Sportsmarket," said Andrade.
Andrade claims Patrick was a good boss.
"He said he will do anything he can do to help us in this country at a time when it was very difficult," said Andrade.
Andrade claims he was one of four undocumented workers at the Sportsmarket, one of whom is now dead. Two others we couldn't track down.
Patrick says every employee filled out federal employment paperwork and was hired and supervised by managers, not directly by him. He adds that, "Employees were hired and paid in accordance with regularly accepted business practices of the time."
Andrade admits he used a Ssocial Security number and green card from a Houston flea market to get the job. But over months of working for Patrick in the mid-1980s, Andrade says he told Patrick he was undocumented.
"Did Dan Patrick know you were illegal?" we asked.
Andrade said, "Yes, that's why I was telling him that."
"You told him many times? It wasn't a secret?" we asked.
"Yes," Andrade responded.
In a statement today, Patrick called this a last minute attack and a political smear but admitted, "I do vaguely remember Mike Andrade. As I recall he was an affable young man and seemed to be a good and conscientious worker. I do not recall his relatives or friends."
In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed a law that helped Andrade and millions more undocumented immigrants become citizens. As part of the application process, Andrade says Patrick wrote a letter in support of Andrade's application. When we asked to see the letter, Andrade could not produce a copy, but recalls it.
"How proud he was with us to be working for him," said Andrade.
Patrick says he has no recollection of ever writing such a letter.
"The man I knew changed completely, you know? Change completely now he's talking bad about us and I don't know why," Andrade said.
"The first question is -- stop the invasion," said Patrick from KERE debate earlier this year.
In this year's race, Patrick has made closing the border and opposition to illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign. In TV ads, online and in person, Patrick rattles off a list of crimes tracable to the undocumented.
It isn't all new. In 2006 Patrick was quoted on the Texas Observer website saying "(illegal immigrants) are bringing third world diseases with them." According to the article singling out, "tuberculosis, malaria, polio and leprosy."
"When I see how he was talking bad things about us, I was real surprised, real surprised," said Andrade.
Andrade claims he was willing to speak out then, but didn't know how and didn't find a way until Patterson's private eye found him.
"This feels like a hit?" we asked.
"It is and it's well deserved. Hypocrisy, double dealing, different stories at different times," said Patterson.
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