State Senator Dan Patrick responds to accusations of employing illegal immigrants
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- We have an update on allegations in the heated race for lieutenant governor. One candidate says he found a former employee of State Senator Dan Patrick who casts serious doubts on Patrick's hard line on immigration. So just how important will the immigration issue be in this election?
Jerry Patterson tracked down a man who claims he worked for Patrick decades ago when the man was an undocumented immigrant and Patrick was a sports bar owner. Patrick denied breaking any law or knowingly employing him but all the candidates in the race are using the episode to polish up their border credentials.
On Tuesday, Mike Andrade told you he once worked for Dan Patrick as an undocumented immigrant in the mid-1980s.
"At some point you told your manager and you told Dan Patrick, hey I am illegal here?" we asked.
"Yes," replied Miguel Andrade.
"You distinctly remember that?" we asked.
Andrade replied, 'Yes."
Today, Andrade is on the road headed west looking for the two other then-undocumented immigrants he claims also worked for Patrick at the time.
In a statement released Tuesday, Senator Patrick said he vaguely remembered Andrade but none of his friends or relatives.
On Wednesday, Patrick posted a picture of his mother and a new great grandchild on his Facebook page, saying, "I'm not going to let (opponents Jerry) Patterson or (Todd) Staples' dirty political attacks imply my mother would have broken any rules or laws 30 years ago...it's offensive."
When Patrick owned his sports bar, his mother handled the paperwork and payroll. Wednesday afternoon, Patrick released a new ad, attacking all of his opponents and claiming to be the roughest toughest border protector in the race.
"Patrick is the only candidate," the ad claims.
The ad goes on to say, "Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor, secure the border, fight Obama,"
But in the wake of Tuesday night's report, it's not ground the other candidates are willing to give up. Todd Staples said 'hiring illegal immigrants disqualifies him from the race.'
Jerry Patterson, who hired the private eye who found the undocumented worker, said Tuesday night, "Patrick cultivated a public persona to hide his duplicity."
Lt. Governor Dewhurst said he, "Never knowingly employed any illegal immigrants."
"The real issue is that none of these candidates want to be outflanked on the immigration issue because it's so salient to a large part of the republican electorate," said Rice University Political Scientist Mark Jones.
We asked Jones why this is such an important issue?
Jones reminded us, the Texas Lt. Governor really can't do much on immigration law, but at a time of border unrest and racial change in Texas, the Republican electorate demands tough positions.
"It's almost become this third rail of Republican politics that any candidate who is seen as soft on immigration loses an election," said Jones.
Early voting in this race started yesterday by the way. Election Day is March 4.
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