State House of Representatives candidate and former Border Patrol agent Ephraim Cruz is open to talking about a federal court case in which he beat charges of illegally smuggling an illegal immigrant across the border.
But Cruz, who is one of seven Democrats seeking two House seats in southside Legislative District 29, is not as forthcoming when it comes to a lawsuit in which he had his wages garnished to pay child support. (Note: Although a judge ordered a paternity test in the case, Cruz had taken a paternity test one week after the child’s birth that showed he was the father.)
James Lamb, who is managing Cruz’s campaign, said that Cruz, 35, would have no comment on the legal actions taken against him by the mother of his son, who was born in December 2001.
Pima County Superior Court records show that in February 2004, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed suit on behalf of the child’s mother, whom ScrambleWatch ’08 has chosen not to identify. A recent phone number for the woman, who was working as a nurse at the time of the lawsuit against Cruz, has been disconnected.
Judge Pro Tempore Karen Adam ordered Cruz in June 2004 to pay $775.25 a month in child support. That included $698 a month for current support and $75 toward the $15,654 that Cruz owed in payments dating back to the child’s birth, according to court records. (The amount also included $2.25 in administrative costs.)
In August 2004, the Border Patrol was ordered to begin withholding child-support payments from Cruz’s paycheck.
Less than a year later, in October 2005, Cruz requested that the court lower his monthly payments because he had been suspended without pay from the Border Patrol following his federal indictment on charges of smuggling a Mexican national across the U.S. border. (Cruz would later be acquitted of the charges, which he said were retaliation for a complaint he filed regarding the treatment of detainees in Border Patrol custody.)
In light of Cruz’s suspension, Judge Pro Tempore K.C. Stanford reduced his monthly child support payment to $365 a month.
In April 2006, while Cruz was working for Behavioral Systems Southwest, his wages were again garnished for $487.70 per month, which included $120 in arrears, according to court records. In August 2006, when he went to work for the Arizona’s Children Association, his wages were garnished by the same amount.
In April of this year, as he was campaigning for the Arizona Legislature, Cruz negotiated a $117 decrease in the amount of money he had to provide his son, to $248 a month, court records show.
The Tucson Weekly requested an interview with Cruz to discuss the paternity and child-support lawsuits through campaign manager James Lamb, but Cruz declined to attend. Lamb came to the meeting on Cruz’s behalf, saying the candidate was “elsewhere.”
Lamb said Cruz would have no comment on the paternity lawsuits.
“As a campaign, we have no comment whatsoever on the personal lives of any candidate, whether Mr. Cruz or anyone else,” said Lamb. “This campaign has been about the issues and all the other campaigners in the race have been talking about the issues befitting Legislative District 29. Because of that, it doesn’t really make sense to engage in past issues.”
Lamb dismissed inquiries regarding Cruz’s paternity lawsuit as “prurient and salacious.”
“Your readers are interested in health care,” said Lamb. “Your readers are interested in gas prices. Your readers are interested in the impending water shortage. Your readers do not want to see the Tucson Weekly—or any part of the Tucson Weekly—devolve into TMZ.com.”
UA journalism student Aleksa Brown contributed to this report.