Updated, 9:23 p.m.:
State Sen. Dan Patrick blasted Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson for bringing his health records into the race for lieutenant governor Friday evening, saying they have ruined their own reputations without soiling his. As Dewhurst, who faces Patrick in a Republican primary runoff, tried to distance himself from Patterson on Friday, Patterson released more court records in the hope that Patrick's medical history might hurt his candidacy.
Early voting in the runoff between Patrick and Dewhurst starts next week; Patterson was also in the race but didn't make it out of the March primary.
"David Dewhurst and his attack dog Jerry Patterson have sunk deeper into the mire, lowering themselves further into the gutter," Patrick said in a news release. "While it is hard to imagine, they have achieved a new low.
“As I have said, I voluntarily entered the hospital twice in the 1980’s for exhaustion and to seek treatment for depression. Some of prescribed medications exacerbated my condition and created more serious problems. Through prayer and with the help of my family and physician, like millions of other American, I was able to defeat depression. I have not seen a doctor or taken any medication to treat depression in nearly 30 years. Two weeks ago I released a medical report indicating I am in excellent physical and mental health; I am ready to serve.
“Dewhurst believes my medical issues with depression, nearly 30 years ago, are a problem. He’s mistaken. The problem is when a politician who is sliding in the polls, thinks he can use his opponents health records to get ahead. It simply won’t work."
Updated, 6:55 p.m.:
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is distancing himself from the release of court papers that include a detailed medical history about his GOP runoff opponent Dan Patrick’s treatment for mental health issues.
The documents, which said that Patrick was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance in the early 1980s and was hospitalized at two different Houston facilities, were distributed to reporters Thursday evening by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a former candidate in the race who has now endorsed Dewhurst.
"Commissioner Jerry Patterson operates completely independently of my Campaign, and over my objections he chose to release information from Mr. Paul Harasim's files, which are all part of the public domain,” Dewhurst said Friday in a statement, referring to the former Houston Post reporter who was a party in the lawsuit after he had an altercation with Patrick in a night club parking lot.
Dewhurst also denied that Joe Manero — who was addressed in a Friday email from Patterson that suggested the Dewhurst camp was involved in making Patrick’s medical history public — had a position with his campaign. In April, The Texas Tribune, along with other news outlets, reported that two Dewhurst aides resigned after the lieutenant governor brought Manero and a second consultant, Chris Beavers, into campaign leadership.
Updated finance reports, which detail who is on the campaign’s payroll, will not be available until next week.
Allen Blakemore, Patrick’s consultant, said in a statement that it was "ridiculous for Dewhurst to suggest that he can claim any distance from Patterson’s actions.”
“Jerry Patterson has been a Dewhurst surrogate since before he endorsed him in the runoff. He has been utilized as an attack dog, ” he said. "Now Dewhurst finds that he can’t put the genie back in the bottle. I would suggest that he should never have opened the cork on Jerry Patterson in the first place.”
When Patterson sent a second round of documents to media outlets Friday afternoon, he said he was doing so against Dewhurst’s wishes.
"Dewhurst has asked me to cease distribution of this information. He also asked me not to run against him for Lt. Gov. I didn't really give a damn what David wanted then, and I don't give a damn now,” he wrote in a email. "The voters of Texas need to know. They're going to find out between now and May 27th, or they're going to find out between May 27th and November. The only other choice in November is Letitia [sic] Van de Putte. Texas is too important for me to remain silent."
An email sent to political reporters Friday suggests Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's campaign was involved in exposing detailed information about GOP runoff opponent Dan Patrick's history of medical treatment for mental health issues.
The message from Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson was also sent to Dewhurst adviser Joseph Manero, who officially joined the campaign in April.
With a list of Capitol reporters in the "to" field, Patterson wrote, "These are the addresses to send to ASAP. We CANNOT wait. If we don't do this now, it will not be known before early voting starts."
As a result, everyone on that list received the email.
"David has a great idea, but we could've only done it if we had this stuff a week ago," Patterson continued. "Don't let Daivids [sic] indecision snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Patrick is playing the victim well. He says it was a minor bout of depression and he went in for a few days of rest. This will blow his story away."
Calls to Patterson and the Dewhurst campaign were not immediately returned. When asked by The Texas Tribune on Friday morning prior to Patterson's email being sent out, Dewhurst spokesman Andrew Barlow said the campaign had no role in making the information public.
Patterson, a former candidate in the race who is now backing Dewhurst, released a deposition to news outlets Thursday night that revealed Patrick was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance in the early 1980s and was hospitalized at two different Houston facilities. In a statement released in response, the Patrick campaign blamed Dewhurst for the release of the documents, and explained that Patrick had sought and received medical attention for “mild depression and exhaustion” in the 1980s.
Dewhurst was not an obvious participant in making the information public, issuing only a short statement in response to the reports about Patrick.
"My heart goes out to Dan and his family for what they've endured while coping with his condition," he said.
Three Republican senators who have endorsed Patrick — Sens. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, Bob Deuell of Greenville and Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, all doctors — said in a statement sent late Thursday night that they "sincerely hope David Dewhurst was not responsible for this sleazy attack and would encourage him to stop the negative personal attacks and focus his campaign on the issues."
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson joined them with a statement Friday morning.
"As chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, I was shocked at the recent attack on one of our members, invading his medical privacy — and hitting a new low in Texas politics," wrote Nelson, a Republican. "At a time when we are working so hard for society to accept mental health as they would any other medical condition, it is despicable to turn Senator Patrick's private health information from 30 years ago into a campaign issue. We are better than this."