After publishing Judge Bill Henderson’s speech at the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club on the release of Sen. Dan Patrick’s mental illness records, I received an email from a Dr. Gary Brock asking to meet with me to discuss the fact that in my haste to chasten Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Jerry Patterson for “gutter politics”, I was missing the real story – that Dan was lying and deceiving voters about the depth and extent of his mental illness, and that Dan has a pattern of this behavior through the years. Dr. Brock insisted that neither Jerry Patterson nor David Dewhurst were “stigmatizing” mental illness – the real culprit was Dan Patrick for not being honest and hiding the truth.
After verifying that there really was a Dr. Gary Brock and that he was one of the top pediatric orthopedic surgeons in Houston, I agreed to meet with him. I was still unclear how he could add anything to the record because he was “just a doctor”, not a psychiatrist or even a psychologist. Dr. Brock took care of that by bringing along Dr. Stan Moldovan, a top neurologist/psychiatrist in Houston, whom he had asked to review the medical records that have been released.
After hearing their story, and Dr. Moldovan’s expert evaluation of the now public domain records, as well as his analysis of several episodes of Patrick’s legislative career, I’m inclined to agree with them, at least about the part that Dan is currently lying and continues to be deceptive about the state of his mental illness condition in the 1980’s and perhaps today. As I explained to them about the gutter politics, I can’t change the manner and style in which Dewhurst/Patterson (Dewtterson) released the information, which allowed a very unsympathetic public figure to become a victim and very sympathetic public figure that will almost surley be the Republican nominee for Lt. Gov. now that early voting is over and half to two-thirds of the votes have been cast. And that is perhaps the saddest part of this story – if Dan Patrick is that nominee, there is a better than even chance that Democrat Leticia Van de Putte will be the next Lt. Gov. of Texas. Sad indeed.
Dan Patrick’s lies about his condition
Here is what Dan’s campaign said about the two hospitalizations that he had in the 1980’s.
Nearly 30 years ago, Senator Patrick sought medical attention to help him cope with mild depression and exhaustion. Under the care of a medical doctor, he voluntarily admitted himself for treatment and spent a short time in the hospital. He has not required additional treatment or medication for nearly 30 years. – See more at: http://www.danpatrick.org/news/#sthash.SOVEF3vY.dpuf
Obviously, that is a lie. We now know that Dan twice attempted suicide – that is far more than “mild depression and exhaustion”. We know that in his 1982 stay at Memorial City, he attempted suicide after entering the hospital, he attempted to slice his wrists, was found with razor blades and a dinner knife, jumped out of a window, and required a 24 hour a day sitter. The medical record of this stay is troubling because Dr. Kramer’s consult was written on the day of discharge – obviously a consult must be done on entry to the hospital in order to determine a course of treatment. His original diagnosis of “acute exhaustion” was scratched out (there is no diagnosis of acute exhaustion) and replaced by “acute anxiety disorder” (suicide is not typically a symptom of anxiety). Kramer’s daily notes say that the patient was doing well but the daily records indicate that Patrick was being treated as a severely depressed patient and was being given doses of medicine twice the normal prescription levels. And exactly how can a patient that did all of these things while in the hospital be described as “doing well”?
In his 1986 stay and a second suicide attempt, Dr. Kramer’s consult was once again on the day of discharge. Worse, Dr. Kramer listed this as a single episode of depression when in fact he knew it wasn’t. Why was Kramer being so protective of this patient? Was it Patrick’s celebrity status in Houston at the time? It is also important to note that Patrick checked out early and was not cooperative with the attending physician and therapist.
And once again, Dan lied by saying that he was only coping with mild depression and exhaustion.
Recent episodes of manic behavior
Of course, all of that was roughly thirty years ago and Dan claims to have been cured and that he has not been treated for depression since. Both doctors were skeptical of his claims. Dr. Moldovan told me that the true diagnosis was bipolar disorder, so Dan could in fact say that he hasn’t been treated for depression if he were being treated for bipolar disorder. Perhaps but I was still skeptical and wondered if there were episodes more recent than decades ago that could be indicative of continued manic behavior, specifically during Dan’s time as a state senator. Here is a short list of episodes that have happened while Dan was in the Senate:
- During the 2011 session Patrick was carrying the sonogram bill and got into argument with House Sonogram sponsor Sid Miller. Patrick blew his cork one day and walked over to House where he threatened, in front of House members, to beat up Sid Miller. The House then got mad at Patrick; he went to see Straus and they had an argument and Straus told Patrick to stay away from the House.
- On the night of the vote on TSA groping bill, Patrick said he had the votes. Patrick was recognized by Dewhurst to bring up the bill based on his telling Dewhurst he had 21 votes, but immediately senators started complaining he didn’t have the votes, and Patrick pulled down the bill, then started yelling crazily at the Senators and Dewhurst and ran off Senate floor.
- Another episode Was the this year’s education bill. Patrick agreed to an amendment dealing with requiring Algebra II, in front of the entire Senate caucus…then in characteristic style came out on the floor and announced “he’d changed his mind” during the debate (unheard of in the Senate). Sen Tommy Williams carried the amendment to require Algebra II, which passed.
- During the 2013 session Patrick always had to look good and would not accept challenges to his authority. His behavior as Chair of Public Education was embarrassing, yelling at witnesses and always having to be right. Houston education advocates Don Adams and Jim Windham complained Patrick continually told them he was going to do one thing, but did another.
- There is another well documented event where Tommy Williams was furious at Patrick over the budget that Patrick helped write and later voted against for “political grandstanding” purposes.
There are, of course, many other recent examples – I didn’t even bring up John Carona. After reviewing these examples, Dr. Moldovan confirmed that these were very compelling examples of ongoing manic behavior. Has Dan Patrick really been “cured”? I don’t know but his behavior suggests that voters should be skeptical of his claim.
Obviously, Dr. Moldovan cannot diagnose a patient that he has never examined. All he can do is say that these public episodes are compelling examples of ongoing manic behavior.
So just who is stigmatizing mental illness?
Is it the Dewhurst (via Patterson) campaign by their botched release of the records and poor messaging? Or is it Dan Patrick by lying about his condition and not coming clean with voters? Perhaps Allen Blakemore for being ready with a sympathy campaign, knowing full well that he was releasing a statement that was false?
Probably all of them to one extent or another. Even if Dewhurst had good intentions, wanting voters to know of Patrick’s continued lies and deception, he has to take some responsibility for the results by empowering Patterson. And we can’t just say “Blakemore is being Blakemore” and leave it at that – at some point, candidates need to distance themselves from his type of campaigning. But Dan Patrick needs to take the bulk of the blame by not being honest and lying to the voters.
Would the public perception of Patrick’s mental illness have been different if this information had been made publicly available in time for it to be fully vetted before the runoff election?
Should voters punish Dewhurst (and by extension all Republicans in Texas) for a mismanaged campaign or should they reject Dan Patrick’s decades of lying and deception and let him retire in peace?
With my vote, I’ll do the latter. I’ll stick with David Dewhurst, knowing that his record speaks for itself and that Texas really can’t afford to have a Democrat in the Lt. Governor’s seat. And I’ll say a prayer for Dan, hoping that whatever the results of the election, he will be able to control his illness.
Dan Patrick stated under oath that he did not have a problem with releasing these records into the public domain. At this point in time, there is no reason that voters should not have the opportunity to make their own decision.
(note: in the interest of full disclosure, I met Dr. Brock’s wife a couple of years ago when she was on the staff of Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s campaign. She is no longer on the staff and I did not know of the connection until I met with Dr. Brock and he informed me.)
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