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By W. Gardner Selby April 18, 2014

David Dewhurst lofts ridiculous unsupported claim about Dan Patrick legally changing his name to hide debts

Dan Patrick of Houston walked away from hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and, according to his opponent in a May 27, 2014, Republican lieutenant governor primary runoff, "changed his name from Danny Goeb to hide from the debts."

"If he can’t run his own business honestly," a woman says in the ad launched Aprl 16, 2014, by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, "how can we ever trust him to run the state honestly?"

Patrick’s past bankruptcy and name change have drawn news coverage before. We wanted to look into the charge that Patrick, a state senator since 2007, changed his name in connection with his financial difficulties, something we hadn't heard before.

That may be because it's not factually supported.

We asked for evidence to support the claim from the Dewhurst campaign and received none.

To our inquiry, the Dallas Morning News emailed us excerpts from Patrick’s bankruptcy case. The provided 10 pages show Patrick’s bankruptcy filing was initiated Oct. 27, 1986, and was closed Oct. 22, 1992. Also, a document indicates, Patrick (whose legal name was then Goeb) was "released from all dischargeable debts" on May 4, 1987.

News stories dating to Patrick’s first Senate campaign, in 2006, indicate he legally changed his name years after his bankruptcy filing and after he’d presented himself as Dan Patrick for decades in his careers as a TV broadcaster, businessman and conservative talk-radio host.

An Oct. 22, 2013, Austin American-Statesman news story said: "Dan Patrick is the stage name the former Dannie Scott Goeb took when he went into broadcasting, even before he moved to Houston in 1979 to be an anchor with KHOU."

A March 1, 2006, Houston Chronicle news story said: "Born Dannie Scott Goeb in Baltimore, he began using the more familiar name," Dan Patrick, "in 1978 as a sportscaster in Scranton, Pa. He legally changed his name in the fall of 2003 while contemplating a political run, so he would be recognizable on the ballot," the story said.

So, Patrick used his professional name long before the bankruptcy. He legally changed his name more than 15 years after filing for personal bankruptcy.

Featured Fact-check

Patrick describes his name change on a campaign web page, saying his birth name, with Goeb pronounced like globe, "was not a pleasant sounding name or easy to spell if you didn’t see it. I have never used it on air. Beginning with my first radio job at age 18 back in 1968 I used my first and middle name only. I was Dan Scott on the radio and planned on keeping that as my on air name always.

"However, Elden Hale, the man who hired me for my first TV anchor job in 1977 told me I needed to change my air name before joining his station in Scranton, Pa. He asked me to pick a new name because there was an anchor with the last name of Scott on a competing station. He didn’t want any confusion. I was so excited to finally get my first anchor job in television whatever he wanted me to do in that regard was fine with me.

"My wife and I picked Dan Patrick. Her brother’s middle name was Patrick. I have been known as Dan Patrick for 36 years. My parents even became known as the Patricks. Even though our legal name was Goeb all those years my wife and children were known as the Patricks by most folks." In the post, Patrick went on to say he legally changed his name to Dan Goeb Patrick so he could present himself as Dan Patrick in any possible bid for elected office.

Our ruling

Dewhurst said Patrick changed his name to hide from his debts.

The lieutenant governor offered no backup for this claim, which shakes out as factually illogical. Patrick’s bankruptcy case ended in 1992; he has said he legally changed his name 11 years later.

That gap in time alone leads us to see this claim as both incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.


Our Sources

Excerpts from Dan Patrick’s bankruptcy case, received by email from the Dallas Morning News, April 17, 2014 (edited by PolitiFact Texas to remove mentions of Patrick’s Social Security number)

News story, "Skirmish over lawmaker’s name is latest in a long line," Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 22, 2013 (accessed April 17, 2014)

News story, "A life in public gives Patrick boost in District 7 race," the Houston Chronicle, May 1, 2006 (accessed April 17, 2014)

Web page, "The Truth – Name Change," Dan Patrick campaign, undated (accessed April 17, 2014)

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More by W. Gardner Selby

David Dewhurst lofts ridiculous unsupported claim about Dan Patrick legally changing his name to hide debts

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