Paul Babeu, the Suddenly Openly Gay Pinal County Sheriff, Vows to Continue Congressional Run, Serve Out Remaining Term as Sheriff -- Despite Mexican Ex-Lover's Insistence That Sheriff's Camp Threatened Him With Deportation
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu turned a nearly hour-long press conference to address allegations of threats that he and his attorney made to Babeu's ex-boyfriend into a parade of people defending his right to be gay.
Photo by Jamie Peachey The sheriff's friend, Jay Stewart, praises Babeu during the press conference.
He asked a slew of own employees and friends to the microphone to offer him their unyielding support, trying to spin the situation he finds himself in into an attack on his homosexuality -- which until he confirmed it today was something he never talked about publicly. Indeed, many people New Times spoke with yesterday were amazed to learn that the tough-talking, right-wing Republican lawman is gay.
The huge irony is that 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.)
Jose's attorney, Melissa Weiss-Riner, who received phone calls directly form Chris DeRose, Babeu's attorney and congressional campaign consultant, confirms that DeRose claimed Jose's visa was expired, as well as warned that Jose shouldn't bring attention to himself or he could be deported.
Babeu's spin is that the media (that is, New Times) used the "baseless" allegations as a "hook" to write a story about his sexuality.
Babeau's claim that the allegations are baseless is far from the truth.
The story is about a sheriff who is accused of abusing his power and displaying reckless judgment in e-mailing explicit photographs of himself to at least one anonymous individual.
As we pointed out in our news story, Weiss-Riner wrote to the sheriff's attorney on January 17 that the sheriff's "continued harassment and intimidation have caused [Jose] to live in fear."
Photo Paul Babeu sent to Jose.
In an earlier letter on September 30, Weiss-Riner wrote to DeRose that his "claim that [Jose] does not have legal status in this country is simply not true. However, if your client ... Mr. Babeu wishes to make these allegations, my client will prevail against the claims."
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.
Pinal County Board of Supervisors chairman Pete Rios has called for Babeu's immediate resignation.
Babeu stressed, however, that he plans to stick it out.