"I am gay."
Ariz. sheriff says he's gay after misconduct claims
By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times February 18, 2012
On Saturday an Arizona sheriff running for Congress as a Republican denied accusations that he had threatened to deport a Mexican national ex-lover, resigned from a volunteer position with Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign, and publicly came out as gay.
After a report published Thursday by the weekly Phoenix New Times, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu acknowledged that he had a "personal relationship" with a man identified only as Jose.
Jose accused the sheriff of threatening to deport him after he refused to sign an agreement stipulating that he would not disclose details of their romantic involvement, the newspaper reported.
At a news conference Saturday, Babeu called the allegations "absolutely, completely false, except for the issues that refer to me as being gay. Because that's the truth. I am gay."
Babeu, considered a rising star in the Republican Party, is known for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, and told reporters he did not break any laws, instead casting the allegations as attempts to derail his congressional campaign.
He said he had called the Romney campaign to resign from his volunteer position as co-chairman of the Arizona Romney for President campaign. "We support his decision," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.
Babeu, 43, had been stumping for Romney in recent months, appearing recently at an event with former Vice President Dan Quayle.
During the almost 45-minute news conference, the sheriff defended his record as head of the law enforcement agency, and confirmed the authenticity of photos of himself circulating in the Phoenix New Times and elsewhere, including one of him posing in a bathroom wearing only undershorts.
The Phoenix New Times published the photographs on its website which it said came from the sheriff's online profile on a gay dating site where men solicit sex.
A message left with a Penjus County sheriff's spokesman seeking comment was not immediately returned Saturday.
In text messages published by the weekly, Babeu allegedly told Jose: "You can never have business after this and you will harm me and many others in the process … including yourself & your family."
Pinal County, with a population of about 400,000, is a largely rural county just south of Phoenix and north of Tucson.