Sheriff Paul Babeu "Pleaded" With Ex-Boyfriend to Keep Silent About Relationship, AG's Investigators Reveal
See also: Babeu's Mexican Ex-Lover Says Sheriff's Attorney Threatened Him
See also: Demands Grow for Full Investigation into Allegations Against Babeu
See also: Paul Babeu and Ex-Boyfriend Jose Orozco Won't Be Charged With Crimes
|Paul Babeu and his ex-boyfriend, Jose Orozco|
But was there a threat? Did Chris DeRose, Babeu's attorney, raise questions about the ex-boyfriend's immigration status to intimidate him into signing a non-disclosure contract?
That question has been at the crux of a story that lit a firestorm for the once-up-and-coming Republican and forced him to quit his Congressional campaign.
And, today, a seven-month investigation by the Arizona Attorney General's Office concluded that the answer was: "There is no indication that [Babeu] misused any authority or misused public money to harass or intimidate Jose Orozco" and that Ozoco's "allegations are not supported by the facts."
But it appears that DeRose told investigators a different story than he told the media.
"In the interview with Chris DeRose, he said that he wanted Jose Orozco to come to his office and sign a non-disclosure agreement," AG's investigators wrote.
While investigators say DeRose admitted that to them, he previously denied it to the media, according to published reports.
An Arizona Republic article on March 7, 2012 says, "DeRose denies ever having the Sept. 12 conversation and on Wednesday repeated his claim that he never asked Orozco to sign a non-disclosure contract."
DeRose is quoted in the Republic as saying: "The only thing I ever wanted him to sign was an agreement to refrain from further attacks on our website, Twitter, or online transaction systems. If you look at her first letter to me, [Orozco's then-lawyer Melissa Weis-Riner] says that Jose would not sign anything but would refrain from further attacks on the website. I took her at her word."
To other media outlets, too, DeRose said the "objective" wasn't to get Orozco to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
DeRose was quoted in the Los Angels Times in February 2012 as saying he was just trying "to prevent another hacking incident, and the only thing I ever asked for was an agreement to refrain from doing so in the future."
It's unclear which of DeRose's statements is accurate or why investigators didn't press the discrepancy.
As we previously reported, Orozco said the threats against him came after he started tweeting about Babeu's profile on a hook-up site for gay men -- and posting unflattering articles on the campaign website. He says that's when Babeu's campaign manager, DeRose, went after him.
Orozco eventually gave control of the accounts to Babeu. Orozco said DeRose then wanted him to sign a non-disclosure agreement, promising not to reveal his relationship with the sheriff.
When Orozco refused, he and his attorney, Weis-Riner, said DeRose brought up Orozco's alleged expired visa as incentive for him to sign.
While DeRose's story apparently changed when he talked to AG's investigators, Weis-Riner's has been consistent since she and Orozco first shared Jose's story with New Times.
She told investigators the same thing she told media outlets before the AG's office started its probe. She told them that after reaching a stalemate over Orozco's signing the non-disclosure agreement, DeRose said her client should be interested in signing the agreement.
The report says Weis-Riner continued to investigators that DeRose told her "it was his understanding" that Orozco was in the United States on an expired student visa. At that point, it became a heated conversation, she went on, sayng she told DeRose, "Are you kidding me? This is why you want my client to sign the agreement!"
She told investigators that DeRose said yes. She then related that she told DeRose it would be embarrassing for his client to make the allegations because Babeu takes such a strong stand on illegal immigration, and "now you are trying to tell me Jose Orozco is here illegally."
Investigaors say DeRose told them the conversation never took place.
Instead, he described his conversations -- those that he could remember -- with Weis-Riner as "pleasant." He said he didn't have any documentation or files on "the matter," investigators noted.