After a potentially damaging claim emerged this week that Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick employed undocumented workers at one of his Houston sports bars he operated in the 1980s, a group of Tea Party leaders has come to his defense.
In a letter, representatives from 13 Tea Party groups across the state pledge to stand with Patrick "just as we stood with Ted Cruz in the face of unrelenting attacks from moderates and liberals."
"Dan has been a consistent, reliable voice for reforming our broken system of entitlements and supporting law enforcement in its efforts to fight an open border," they say.
The letter attacks the immigration stances of all of Patrick's opponents in the March primary — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. But the letter is addressed to Patterson, who hired the private investigator responsible for the storyline's genesis when he found a former employee of Patrick. That employee told The Dallas Morning News and KTRK-TV earlier this week that he and his cousin and two other men were hired by Patrick while they were in the U.S. illegally.
"Mr. Patterson, early on, it was obvious that you were taking a page out of the Dewhurst US Senate race playbook for this campaign. You've spent more time railing at Senator Patrick and working to personally destroy him than talking about the big issues facing Texas," it reads. "Your private investigation yielded fodder for mocking cartoons of Dan Patrick and blaring headlines in newspapers whose editors would rather drink strychnine than to write anything good about the solutions offered by a genuine conservative like Dan Patrick."