Pinal County, Ariz. Sheriff Paul Babeu resigned his post as Mitt Romney's state campaign co-chairman, following the revelation on Saturday that he was involved in a homosexual relationship with a Mexican immigrant who claims he was threatened with deportation if he spoke out about their involvement.
Babeu publicly said he was gay and admitted to being in a relationship with the man, known only as Jose, but denied the allegation that he threatened his former lover, whose legal status remains unclear.
Yesterday, a tabloid article made a number of false allegations about me. Only one was true: I'm gay, wrote Babeu on his campaign Web site, as he continues to seek the Republican nomination for a House seat.
I want to be judged on my service: 20 years in the military, two deployments--including one in Iraq, a police officer who has responded to thousands of calls for help, and a sheriff who has cut response times while reducing my own budget. I hope you will stand with me as we talk about the issues that matter: securing our border and ending the record debt and deficit spending that is stalling our economy and bankrupting the country we all love.
Romney's campaign has aimed to distance itself from Babeu, releasing this brief statement:
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Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him, said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul in a statement, according to AP. We support his decision.
While Babeu has willingly removed himself from Romney's campaign, he has chosen to remain in the run for Congress, though many are now doubtful of his chances.
There is no question that his budding congressional campaign is over, wrote Arizona political consultant Sean Noble on his blog. Because it is a Republican primary in a conservative district, it's likely that the thing that hurts him the most is that he was in a gay relationship.
Noble goes on to clarify that he personally does not take issue with Babeu's sexual orientation, but rather the allegation that he threatened to deport his former lover, which Noble views as an unconscionable abuse of power.
CNN reporter Miguel Marquez interviewed Jose, and reported that the man claimed his immigration status was legal and he has been traveling in and out of the U.S. on a 10-year tourist visa, while running an online business in Arizona. Marquez said Jose was concerned that his visa status could be jeopardized by Babeu.
According to the CNN interview, Jose said he initially met Babeu through online dating site gay.com in 2006. Their relationship lasted three years, ending when Jose suspected that Babeu had been unfaithful.