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Arizona, Elections, Politics

Sheriff Babeu denies threatening to deport lover

Posted: February 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm   /   by

The congressional campaign, career, and life of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu have been shaken up following allegations that he threatened his lover with deportation if he revealed their relationship.

 . . . Jose, Babeu’s ex-boyfriend and a Mexican national, says threats of deportation came because he refused to sign an agreement not to disclose details of his relationship with the sheriff. (New Times is withholding Jose’s last name because of these threats.)

Needless to say,  based on the pronouns involved, this allegation includes the information that Babeu is gay, which he has confirmed:

Babeu said the allegations are “completely false” and that the only information mentioned in a Phoenix New Times article that’s true is “I’m gay.”

The story includes the revelation of photographs and text messages, to wit:

Babeu’s own text message to Jose states: “You can never have business after this and you will harm me and many others in the process … including yourself and your family.”

Excerpts from the letters were included in the New Times’ article, along with text messages between Babeu to Jose. Babeu told reporters that he did not deny the veracity of the photos or text messages.

Babeu has stepped down as co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s Arizona campaign:

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is stepping down as co-chairman of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s (R) Arizona campaign in the wake of allegations that he threatened to deport a former lover who declined to stay silent about their years-long relationship.

“Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. “We support his decision.”

However, in spite of stepping down from the Romney campaign, according to the New Times, Babeu plans to continue his role as sheriff and his congressional bid in Arizona’s fourth district.

Babeu has struggled to find a way to shield his private activities from public discussion, as is evidenced by his reaction here:

When pressed about his judgment in sending photographs of himself in his underwear and naked with an erection — as well as his profile on — a website where gay men arrange sexual liaisons, Babeu repeats that what he does on his own time is his business.

That being said, Babeu’s high-profile position as a county sheriff and congressional candidate may make such situations difficult to keep solely in the realm of “his business.” As any politician will discover, private can become public very quickly.

Some are expressing admiration for the forthright nature with which Babeu has approached this situation. However, the New Times, as one might expect, is imputing to some of Babeu’s supporters (specifically the tea party) a possible reluctance to support him because of his sexual orientation and support for policies such as gays serving openly in the military, and suggesting that his primary opponents may be the beneficiaries.

Indeed, it is likely that many of Babeu’s supporters will choose now to back another candidate, though this is far more likely to occur because of the scandal, and imputation of scandal generally, rather than because of revelations about Babeu’s sexual orientation. For a savvy Republican electorate, electability is a paramount concern, and whatever ends up being proved true or not, this situation seems likely to impact Babeu’s electability significantly. With an able candidate—and incumbent congressman—like Flagstaff dentist Rep. Paul Gosar in the race, primary voters focused on electability appear now to have much safer bets than Sheriff Babeu.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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Sheriff Babeu denies threatening to deport lover