PHOENIX -- The head of the House Ethics Committee took the first steps Tuesday to decide whether to take any action on the complaint filed against Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson.

House Republican spokesman Rey Torres said Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, distributed copies of the complaint filed Monday by Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix. The complaint, signed by other House Democrats, cited the order of protection a Tucson magistrate issued against Patterson following complaints by Georgette Escobar who had been his live-in girlfriend.

Torres said Patterson also will be given a chance to respond, something Patterson said he will do after consulting with his attorney.

At that point, Torres said, it is up to Vogt whether to proceed with a formal hearing. But Torres would not say whether Vogt has the final decision or whether he can be overruled by a majority of the committee.

Escobar said Patterson locked her out of the house and would not let her retrieve her furniture. She also said Patterson has refused to return her dog which she needs for her therapy.

Hobbs said Patterson's conduct, as alleged by Escobar, not only amounts to disorderly conduct but also adversely reflects on the House.

If Vogt agrees to a hearing, the panel could exonerate Patterson or recommend any penalty up to expulsion. But the final decision is made by the full House.

Torres declined to provide a timeline of how quickly the Ethics Committee has to act.

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