February 18th, 2012
Jeez, I live in a God-forsaken freakshow of a state.
Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, who made national headlines for his strident anti-immigration stance, threatened his Mexican male lover with deportation when the ex refused to promise never to disclose their long-term relationship. The details were provided in an article published in the Phoenix New Times this week. Today, Babeu acknowledged that he is, in fact, gay, but denied all of the other allegations published in the Phoenix paper.
He (Babeu’s ex-lover) 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.
“Jose came to our firm because he felt he was being intimidated, and he was in fear for his life,” Weiss-Riner says. “He wanted his legal rights protected.”
“Jose” says he and Babeu met in 2006 on gay.com. As the relationship grew, Jose created and maintained Babeu’s campaign websites and social media. New Times published text messages and voice mail exchanged between Jose and Babeu in 2011 soon after the relationship soured. The relationship fell apart when Jose found Babeu’s profile on adam4adam.com. Jose created a fake profile posing as “Matt” and soon Babeu began sending him explicit photos and messages. New Times provides the details of those messages and photos here.
In 2010, the Pinal County Sheriff’s office gained national attention when Deputy Louie Puroll claimed that he was ambushed in the desert by Mexican drug runners. Babeu became a regular feature on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, stoking anti-immigrant hysteria that had, by then, led to Arizona’s passage of Senate Bill 1070, the so-called “show me your papers” bill. He also appeared in a commercial with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) demanding that the feds “build the danged fence.” Babeu continued to stand behind his deputy even after the story began falling apart. When Puroll later told a reporter that a drug smuggler threatened to kill the reporter, Babeu fired his deputy because the alleged incident hadn’t been reported to superiors. Just last week, Babeu gave a rabble-rousing speech at the right-wing CPAC conference.
In a news conference today, Babeu admitted that he was gay, and said that he was stepping down as Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Babeu also admitted to having had a personal relationship with Jose, and also did not deny the text messages or photos that were published in New Times, which include some of the threats he made to Jose.
According to the Arizona Republic, a reporter was meeting with Babeu Friday just as the New Times story went online. With the reporter present, Babeu read the story on his smartphone, “shaking his head as he read. Afterward, his face appeared to strain with emotion.”
Babeu is currently running for Congress against fellow Republicans Rep. Paul Gosar and State Sen. Ron Gould for Arizona’s new 4th Congressional District in central and western Arizona. Pinal County is located between Tucson and Phoenix. Babeu and his DeRose say that they don’t think the story will impact his campaign. Babeu said, “My personal life is exactly that.”
The fallout from this scandal may spread far beyond Babeu and Jose. Openly gay state Rep. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson), who is running to fill the recently-vacated Congressional seat of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was one of just two Democratic lawmakers to vote to give the Pinal County Sheriff’s office $5 million to combat “border violence,” even though Pinal County is more than 70 miles from the border. The legislature later scaled back the appropriation to $1.7 million. A week after Heinz’s vote, the Babeu spent the night at Heinz’s home:
“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.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
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