(Fox NewsWire) Sheriff Paul Babeu, a prominent Arizona sheriff and congressional candidate, left his post in Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign Saturday as he battled allegations that he tried to intimidate a male ex-lover.
Babeu confirmed in a press conference Saturday that he is gay, after the story of the relationship was published Thursday in an alternative weekly newspaper. The Pinal County Sheriff, though, adamantly denied claims Saturday that he tried to threaten the man, a Mexican immigrant and a former campaign volunteer, with deportation if their past relationship was made public.
Babeu, who rose to prominence for his strong positions against illegal immigration, vowed to continue his campaign in Arizona’s 4th Congressional District seat.
“This whole rumor, this whole of idea of who I am in my private life has been shopped around,” Babeu told reporters during an hour-long press conference Saturday in front of his sheriff’s office. “This was a way, the hook, of how this could be brought out, and to malign and attack a sheriff who does stand for conservative principals, who does enforce the law.”
At the same time, Babeu stepped aside as the Arizona co-chairman for Romney, a decision the campaign claimed would give him breathing room as he deals with the new claims.
“Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him. We support his decision,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a brief statement.
The Phoenix New Times first reported that a former boyfriend claimed Babeu’s lawyer wanted him to sign an agreement that he would stay silent about their relationship.
The former boyfriend, identified only as Jose, reportedly claimed that when he refused, the attorney said any extra attention on Jose from revealing the relationship could result in him being deported.
The Babeu campaign, though, released a statement Friday saying they only tried to have “this individual” comply with a cease and desist order — after he allegedly hacked into their website and Twitter account. “But at no time were any threats made,” the statement said.
The campaign provided a copy of the Sept. 6, 2011, cease and desist order. The campaign also denied “the sensationalist headline” in the New Times, which claimed the sheriff’s attorney threatened the man with deportation. Babeu told The Arizona Republic that Jose used to be a campaign volunteer. (read more)
Local Perspective FLORENCE, Ariz. – Nearly naked pictures of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu surfaced online Friday, and now his team is having to answer some very uncomfortable questions.
Nearly naked on a dating site, and his profile says he’s seeking other men for sex.
Paul Babeu has been a rising star in political circles. He’s become one of the faces of the anti-illegal immigration fight in Arizona and across the country. And he is currently running for Congress.
But now — his campaign is caught up in this scandal.
The Phoenix New Times broke the story online. The article, written by reporter Monica Alonso, has now become a public relations nightmare for the sheriff who is running for Congress as a conservation Republican.
Alonzo interviewed a man who claims to be Babeu’s former lover, and he makes some very serious allegations against the Pinal County Sheriff.
The New Times article also contains pictures from a gay dating website, where Babeu allegedly posted photos of himself. Sheriff Babeu’s attorney issued a statement saying: “We strongly deny the sensationalist headline published by the Phoenix New Times.”
We asked if Babeu had any statement about the dating profile pictures posted on the New Times Website. Babeu’s attorney said: “No. He believes he’ll be judged by his record as a 20-year veteran of the United States Armed Forces, police officer who has saved two lives in the line of duty and responded to thousands of emergencies, and Iraq war veteran.”
We tried to contact Paul Babeu directly, but he did not return our calls. We also tried to contact the attorney for the man making the allegations, and we haven’t heard back from her yet either.
Statement by Sheriff Paul Babeu for Congress
At 2:30 pm today, the Phoenix New Times contacted the Paul Babeu for Congress campaign via email asking for a response to a long series of allegations for a story they had been working on for two months from an anonymous source.
The allegations referred to an incident that occurred on September 6, 2011, when the campaign’s website, Twitter account, and online financial transaction system were illegally hacked.
A cease and desist letter was sent to the suspected perpetrator who promptly returned access to the campaign.
This individual was asked to sign an agreement refraining from similar activity in the future, but at no time were any threats made. At that time, the individual’s attorney assured the campaign that he was not interested in causing further trouble, which was accepted as true. (read more)