By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times
An Arizona sheriff running for Congress as a Republican denied
accusations Saturday that he had threatened to deport an alleged
ex-lover, a Mexican national. In the process, he also resigned from a
volunteer position with Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign and came out as gay.
After a report published Thursday by the weekly Phoenix New Times, Pinal
County Sheriff Paul Babeu acknowledged that he had a "personal
relationship" with a man identified only as Jose.
Jose accused the sheriff of threatening to deport him after he refused
to sign an agreement stipulating that he would not disclose details of
their romantic involvement, the newspaper reported.
At a news conference Saturday, Babeu called the allegations "absolutely,
completely false, except for the issues that refer to me as being gay.
Because that's the truth. I am gay."
Babeu, considered an emerging star in the Republican Party,
is known for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, and told
reporters he did not break any laws, instead casting the allegations as
attempts to derail his congressional campaign.
He said he had called the Romney campaign to resign from his volunteer
position as co-chairman of the Arizona Romney for President campaign.
"We support his decision," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a
Babeu, 43, had been stumping for Romney in recent months, appearing recently at an event with former Vice President Dan Quayle.
During the almost 45-minute news conference, the sheriff defended his
record as head of the law enforcement agency, and confirmed the
authenticity of photos of himself circulating in the Phoenix New Times
and elsewhere, including one of him posing in a bathroom wearing only
"This isn't a case of … Rep. Weiner," Babeu said, invoking disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, who resigned after sending photos of himself to women online.
The Phoenix New Times published photographs on its website that it said
came from the sheriff's online profile on a gay dating site where men
tend to solicit sex.
A message left with a Pinal County sheriff's spokesman seeking comment was not immediately returned Saturday.
In text messages published by the weekly, Babeu allegedly told Jose:
"You can never have business after this and you will harm me and many
others in the process … including yourself & your family."
Pinal County, with a population of about 400,000, is a largely rural county just south of Phoenix and north of Tucson.
Babeu vowed to continue his campaign for Arizona's rural western 4th
Congressional District seat; he is running against fellow Republican Paul Gosar.
In: Regional News
Tags: LA, times, Arizona, Sheriff, Paul Babeu, GOP, congress, running, gay
Location: Arizona, United States (load item map)
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