Feb 18, 2012 107 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
UPDATE: Further investigation seems to indicate that “Jose” is indeed an ex-boyfriend whom Babeu dumped, and is now on a psycho revenge trip doing all sorts of evil shit, from hacking to unsubstantiated character assassinations and on down the line – – things that are actually making him look like an asshole compared to Babeu’s good guy, which is the reverse of what his intentions were. Babeu does not deny or confirm the alleged relationship, saying he does not discuss his personal life, in an interview with the Arizona Republic, excerpted here.
On the relationship:
Babeu declined to respond to questions about whether he and the man had had a romantic relationship, saying he would not discuss his personal life.
On Jose’s accusations:
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a Republican rising star and a leading candidate for Congress, is facing accusations that he and his attorney threatened to deport a Mexican former lover of Babeu’s if the man refused to agree to not disclose the relationship, according to explosive revelations published Friday by Phoenix New Times.
In a meeting Friday with The Republic, Babeu and his attorney and campaign manager, Chris DeRose, denied the allegations reportedly made by an accuser identified only as “Jose” by the alternative weekly newspaper. Babeu said he knew the man as a campaign volunteer who had improperly accessed his campaign website without permission.
DeRose provided The Arizona Republic with a copy of a cease-and-desist order that he said was sent to the former campaign volunteer Sept. 6 demanding that he stop accessing the website.
An immigration attorney that New Times identified as representing Jose, Melissa Weiss-Riner, confirmed to The Republic that the man was a client but declined to discuss specifically why she was representing him.
“He did come in and retain me late last year based on threats and intimidation, and he wanted an attorney to help protect him,” Weiss-Riner said. She declined to say whether any legal action was pending in the matter.
The Republic could not reach the man identified as Jose by Babeu and DeRose.
Babeu acknowledged Jose was a campaign volunteer who helped on his first campaign for the Sheriff’s Office in 2008.
In an interview Friday with The Republic, Babeu and DeRose said neither of them threatened Jose with deportation or engaged in pressure against him. Babeu said he had no reason to think Jose was in the country illegally.
Babeu and his attorney acknowledged sending the cease-and-desist letter and communicating with Jose’s attorney several times after that.
“That never happened,” Babeu said, referring to the alleged deportation threat or any other intimidation.
Babeu said no money was ever provided to Jose beyond small reimbursements for campaign work.
DeRose said Babeu believes any communication with Jose was on Babeu’s personal phone and e-mail.
The cease-and-desist letter provided by DeRose demanded that Jose delete offensive material from the sheriff’s re-election campaign website and social- media accounts, return control of the sites to the campaign and refrain from taking control of the sites or posting offensive material on the sites in the future. Otherwise, the letter says, they would sue him.
DeRose said Jose’s responded within a day that the content had been deleted and control of the social- media sites had been restored to the campaign. According to DeRose, the attorney said Jose paid for the campaign website without reimbursement from the campaign. DeRose said they offered to pay for whatever the website cost.
In the New Times article, the man describes a romantic relationship that ended after he saw what he said was Babeu’s profile on a gay dating website. The article included photos, including some that appeared to be of Babeu shirtless, and described other, more revealing photos.
It also showed text messages that the man claimed showed discussions he had with Babeu last year. The article said the text messages appeared to come from Babeu’s work cellphone.
When asked if the text messages or photos described in the New Times article were authentic, Babeu said that was a private issue that he would not go into. DeRose said some things in the story were inaccurate or exaggerated, but he would not provide details, saying it would further the “falsehoods.”
When asked how Jose came to work on his campaign, Babeu said, “I had known him. … I had seen him on a personal level.”
The potential fallout of the allegations to Babeu’s political career was not immediately clear late Friday.
DeRose said Jose’s credibility is dubious because he defaced Babeu’s campaign websites. Even so, Babeu and his lawyer indicated Friday that they had no plans to take legal action against Jose.
DeRose first contacted a Republic reporter Friday afternoon, before the story was posted on New Times’ website. A reporter met with the attorney and Babeu in person.
During the interview, the New Times article appeared online, and Babeu read it on a smartphone, shaking his head as he read.
Afterward, his face appeared to strain with emotion. He stepped away to talk with DeRose.
Babeu and DeRose said they did not think the story would derail his political prospects.
“This (story) is not going to make a bit of difference” to voters, DeRose said.
“My personal life is exactly that,” Babeu said.
One issue that may arise from the story is whether voters will question the judgment of a congressional candidate if he posted revealing photos online.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., quit in June after eventually admitting that he had inadvertently posted a photo of his crotch on Twitter. Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., resigned in February 2011 after a gossip website published a shirtless photo he took of himself.
Babeu said he should be judged by his service in the military reserves, as a police officer and as a sheriff and by the “value” he has brought to his community. Babeu said the story would not matter to voters in the 4th District who are more concerned about issues such as jobs and the federal debt.
DeRose said the New Times provided him only two hours to respond to questions for their story.
DeRose added: “Babeu is a single man. … He’s got a right to live his life. … No American in the 21st century should ever be called upon to respond (to such stories).”
The late-breaking Babeu story lit up Twitter on Friday evening. Sides largely broke down along partisan and ideological lines. Some users suggested Babeu is a Republican hypocrite over the immigration issue.
Pete Rios, chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and a Democrat, said given what’s reported in the New Times story, “Sheriff Babeu should resign immediately.”
Excerpted from Tucson Weekly:
Well, this should be interesting. The Phoenix New Times has dropped a bombshell on at least one congressional race, outing Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, with his former lover, who happens to not be the country legally, providing images of Babeu’s Adam2Adam profile and incriminating text messages. To make the story more Tucson-relevant, the story also involved Rep. Matt Heinz:
Openly gay Tucson state Representative Matt Heinz was one of two Democratic lawmakers who broke ranks with the party in March 2011 and voted to give Babeu $5 million to combat border violence. Other lawmakers opposed the measure, in part, because Babeu’s county is at least 70 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The measure finally was pared down to $1.7 million and passed by the Legislature.
About a week after Heinz’s nod to Babeu, the sheriff spent the night at Heinz’s home, text messages that Jose shared with New Times show.
“I’m at Mat Heinz and his boyfriend for dinner & ice cream . . . we are going out to bar and . . . to their house. [Am] staying over,” Babeu texted to Jose at 1:04 a.m. last April 2.
Heinz didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking confirmation of the sleepover.
Clearly, Sheriff Babeu should be free to live his life in whatever manner he likes sexually, but it’ll be interesting to see how this is received among his generally very conservative fanbase, especially consider it appears he knew of his lover’s immigration status when they were dating.
Excerpted from Phoenix New Times:
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu — who became the face of Arizona border security nationally after he started stridently opposing illegal immigration — threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship, the former boyfriend and his lawyer tell New Times.
The latest of the alleged threats were made through Babeu’s personal attorney, who’s also running the sheriff’s campaign for Congress in District 4, the ex-lover says.
He says lawyer Chris DeRose demanded he sign an agreement that he would never breathe a word about the affair. But Jose (New Times is withholding his last name because Babeu and his attorney have challenged his legal status) refused.
The 34-year-old from central Mexico charges that the sheriff’s lawyer warned against mentioning the affair with Babeu. DeRose said gossip about Babeu would focus attention on Jose, attention that could result in his deportation, Jose says.
Melissa Weiss-Riner, Jose’s attorney, confirms her client’s account.
She says she spoke directly to the sheriff’s lawyer, DeRose, about the Babeu camp’s threats that Jose could be deported if he “revealed the relationship.” She says DeRose falsely claimed that Jose’s visa had expired.
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.
We strongly deny the sensationalist headline published by the Phoenix New Times.