State House of Representatives candidate Ephraim Cruz decided to break his silence regarding his child-support lawsuit to clarify points that ScrambleWatch reported in our previous post.
Cruz, who is one of seven Democratic candidates seeking two House seat in Legislative District 29, wants ScrambleWatch readers to know that the state-ordered paternity test referenced in the post was a “procedural thing.” Cruz showed us that he had taken a paternity test one week after his son’s birth in December 2001.
“I have never shirked my responsibilities to my child,” Cruz says.
Cruz, 35, says he encouraged the mother of his child, whom ScrambleWatch has decided not to identify, to sue him to establish his child-support responsibilities.
“I have always preferred to go through the court to have child enforcement because I was no longer romantically involved with my child’s mother,” says Cruz, who adds that he does not have contact with his son at the mother’s request.
Cruz says he was making payments of between $400 and $500 a month in child support payments before the court action was taken, but his records of those payments are in storage. He says he’ll try to recover them for ScrambleWatch.
As noted in our earlier report, in June 2004, Judge Pro Tempore Karen Adam ordered Cruz to pay $775.25 a month in child support, which included $698 a month for current support and an additional $75 toward the $15,654 that the court determined Cruz owed in payments dating back to the child’s birth, as well as a $2.25 administrative fee.
Cruz says he recently paid off the entire amount he owed in arrears, but had no records available to show that he had cleared the debt.
In August 2004, the Border Patrol was ordered to begin withholding child-support payments from Cruz’s paycheck.
Cruz says he wanted to have his wages garnished because “that was a reliable way to consistently …make sure my child got his money every month. I was trying to preempt any future problems.”
Cruz says that in October 2005, he had no choice but to ask the court to 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 his suspension, Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore K.C. Stanford reduced Cruz’s monthly child support payment to $365 a month.
In April of this year, as he prepared to run for office, Cruz negotiated a $117 decrease in the monthly payment he had to provide his son, to $248 a month, court records show.
Cruz says he asked to have the amount lowered because he had been laid off from his job and had to make child-support payments out of his savings account.
“That’s the way it goes,” he says. “That’s part of the process.”
Cruz has been unable to find a new job, but says that his campaign for the Legislature hasn’t affected his hunt for employment.
“I’m running for this office and also seeking employment,” Cruz says.
James Lamb, who is managing Cruz’s campaign, says that Cruz’s decision to reduce his monthly payment to his son while he runs for office shouldn’t negatively reflect on Cruz.
“I don’t understand how requesting a reduction in any sense implies anything negative about my candidate’s character,” Lamb says. “He hasn’t shirked responsibilities here. Asking for a reduction isn’t like that. And I think anybody who has gone through a child-support situation and had to look at their finances and look at what they can provide in this kind of job market under Bushonomics would understand that there are times when, because of the finances alone and the vagaries of the job market, you have to make decisions that can maintain a level of support for your children.”
Lamb attended an interview regarding the child-support lawsuit on Cruz’s behalf last week and said that “we have no comment whatsoever on the personal lives of any candidate, whether Mr. Cruz or anyone else.”
Lamb says he persuaded Cruz, who wanted to discuss the child-support lawsuit, to sidestep last week’s interview.
“Mr. Cruz had nothing to do with not showing up,” Lamb says. “That was on me.”