Sen. Dan Patrick accused of hiring illegal immigrants

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - With the Republican primary just a few day away, state Sen. Dan Patrick is taking a lot of heat from the other candidates in the race for lieutenant governor.

Robert Young, 68, of League City, said he worked for state Senator Patrick as a bartender at Patrick's sports bar in the mid-1980s, and that as many as 10 other employees hired there were undocumented immigrants. Young believes Patrick knew they were undocumented.

"I couldn't prove that he did know, but I don't see how he could not know," Young said.

Young came forward after he was contacted by investigators hired by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who's running against Patrick for the Republican Lt. Governor's nomination.

Young said he agreed to talk because he thinks Patrick is hypocrite.

"The way he talks about illegal aliens he belittles them and he used them. He wants to hunt them, and at one time he used them," he said

Last week Patterson produced another former employee, Miguel Andrade, who said Patrick employed him to work at the bar during he same period, knowing he was in the country illegally.

Patrick, who has referred to illegal immigrants as invaders and "terrorists," denied he knowingly hired undocumented workers.

"These folks presented false documents in order to get a job," Logan Spence, Patrick's campaign manager, told Local 2 News on Thursday. "Dan did not personally hire them; they were hired by managers."

Patrick is running in a tough, four-way race for the Republican lieutenant governor's nomination against incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and Land Commisioner Patterson.

A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll showed Patrick currently in second place. Since Patrick has become the target of attack ads by Patterson and Dewhurst since the first allegations of hiring illegal workers surfaced.

But Rice political scientist Mark Jones said allegations of hiring undocumented workers three decades ago aren't likely to hurt Patrick with his conservative supporters.

"Most Patrick supporters look at this as a different era," Jones said. "We didn't have E-Verify back in the 80s so if they presented Social Security card that looked legitimate, you accepted them at face value."

Professor Jones said the race remains too close to call. He said Dewhurst can expect to be in a runoff, but whether his opponent will be Patrick, Staples or Patterson is still a toss-up.

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