NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick finds himself in the middle of a political firestorm, less than two weeks before the March 4 Texas primary.

Miguel Andrade told Houston TV station KTRK that he is one of four illegal immigrants hired at Patrick’s Houston sports bar in the 1980’s.  “I met Mr. Dan Patrick since the first day when I started working.”

Andrade told KTRK he got his social security number and green card from a Houston flea market, but that he is now a U.S. citizen.

Patrick told KTRK, through a statement, he vaguely remembers Andrade, but that he was hired and supervised by his sports bar’s managers, not him.

When asked if Patrick knew he was in the country illegally, Andrade said, “Yes, that’s why I was telling him that.”

Patrick has made illegal immigration a top campaign platform, and has attacked his rivals about it.

In one of Patrick’s ads, the announcer says, “Dewhurst allowed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Staples voted to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, and healthcare, and Patterson supports amnesty. Patrick is the only candidate with a record of opposing all benefits to illegal immigrants.”

One of Patrick’s Republican opponents, Jerry Patterson, said after Patrick made a false allegation against him, he hired an investigator to track down Andrade to see if what he had heard about Patrick was legit.

Patterson said, “We said okay, let’s find out if it’s true, and we did, and it is true.  Dan Patrick has brought this onto himself.”

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s campaign said Wednesday that Dewhurst had never knowingly hired illegal immigrants.

Another opponent, Todd Staples shot back at Patrick.   “People are finding out about who he really is. I think it’s just one more big question mark about Dan Patrick.”

On his Facebook page Wednesday, Patrick defended himself, saying his mother was his bookkeeper and that “Neither she nor I would knowingly hire anyone illegal. In 1984, there wasn’t E-verify.”

Patrick says his internal poll shows him in second place behind Dewhurst, with Staples and Patterson far behind in third and fourth place.

Political analysts tell CBS 11 News they believe the controversy will hurt Patrick, but that they still expect Dewhurst to end up in a run-off after the primary.

Follow Jack on Twitter:  @cbs11jack

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