February 20th, 2012
04:07 PM ET
6 years ago

Sheriff's former boyfriend speaks out

(CNN) – The man accusing Mitt Romney's former Arizona campaign co-chair of threatening to deport him if he made their relationship public stood by his claim Monday in an interview with CNN.

A Mexican national (whose attorney requested that he be identified as "Jose" as he "continues to live in fear") repeated his allegation that his former boyfriend, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, suggested he would have him deported if he leaked the news about their romantic involvement.

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It's an extraordinary turn of events for Babeu, a Romney supporter and rising political star, and a 34-year-old Mexican immigrant who now finds themselves amidst a personal controversy with presidential politics as the backdrop.

Babeu staunchly denies "Jose's" allegations of wrongdoing. While he announced his resignation as the co-chair of Romney's campaign in Arizona on Saturday, he did, however, acknowledge having a romantic relationship with "Jose."

A candidate himself, Babeu is running for a House seat from Arizona's 4th Congressional District. He is known for his hard line on immigration and gained high profile status in campaign appearances for Sen. John McCain.

"Jose" said his immigration status is current and legal. He said he travels back and forth home to Mexico on a 10-year, US tourist visa that allows multiple-crossings of the border. He also said he was running a business in Arizona called Website Results LLC and claimed it's legal to run the business in the country, even on a tourist visa.

The pair, Jose said, initially met on the website "gay.com" in 2006, and Babeu allegedly emailed Jose a photo of him with McCain –a politician Jose said he didn't know about at the time.

They started dating and were together for three years in all, Jose said, including a short period of time when the two had split up.

Jose claims that he fell in love with Babeu and now reluctantly says he doesn't think the sheriff was ever in love with him. He added that Babeu never asked about his visa status but did one time look at his passport.

According to Jose, he created a fake online persona years later in 2010 after the couple broke up. He made friends with the sheriff on the gay dating websites "Manhunt" and "adam4adam." For two weeks, he posed as "Matt" as he chatted with the sheriff, whose handle was allegedly "studboi1."

Jose said "Matt" finally set a date with "studboi1" and claims he confronted Babeu when they met, telling him that the dating websites were dangerous to his career and admonished him for using them.

The sheriff said Saturday that Jose was a volunteer on his congressional campaign, and when their relationship failed, Babeu alleged Jose took control of his campaign's social media websites and committed identity theft.

His attorney, Chris DeRose, contacted Jose and sent a cease and desist letter, DeRose said on Sunday.

Jose, in turn, contacted his own lawyer after feeling threatened by DeRose, Jose said. While he agreed to the terms of the letter and handed over usernames and passwords to the campaign, he denied that he tampered with the campaigns social media tools in the first place, Jose said.

In the CNN interview, he admitted to making negative comments on stories about the sheriff posted online by the local newspaper, the Chino Valley Review. Jose said those comments came to Babeu's attention, and then Babe's lawyer reportedly asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement. That's when Jose said he sought legal help.

DeRose, however, told CNN he never threatened deportation or raised an issue with his legal status.

Babeu has appeared alongside Romney on the campaign trail, and alongside McCain in a pro-immigration television advertisement which McCain aired during his tough primary campaign in 2010. Babeu also spoke earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul also issued a statement to CNN on Saturday.

"Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him," Saul said. "We support his decision."

The sheriff said he called the Romney campaign to offer his resignation, and said he was not asked nor pressured to resign.
On Sunday, McCain described Babeu as a friend, adding he didn't know any more details than what has been reported in the media.

"All I can say is that he also deserves the benefit, as every citizen does, of innocence until proven guilty," McCain said on ABC's "This Week." "But I appreciate the support that he gave me in my campaign and always will."

- CNN's Gregory Wallace and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

Santorum clarifies 'theology' remark

Santorum rips Obama on social agenda

Gay sheriff resigns Romney role after allegations

Filed under: 2012 • Arizona • Immigration
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Another Republican hypocrit is exposed. It doesn't get any worse than this, but I know the next one will be.

    February 20, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. DENNA

    So the good sheriff does the guy then threatens to deport him to make him be quiet. I guess even some gay men are dogs. I didn't think there were any gay republicans – you know – that "family values" thing the GOP tauts all the time.

    February 20, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bullies are bullies whether Gay or straight, regardless of party affiliation.

    February 20, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Larry L

    This wouldn't be important if the Republicans weren't so homophobic and anti-imigrant. It couldn't happen in a better state...

    February 20, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Texas Doc

    Gay Sheriff? Arizona Republican? What is it about today's GOP that attracts these people? Makes you wonder about all of them, especially the really loud anti-gay ones.

    February 20, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Chris

    The map is wrong, it should be "Tucson" not "Tuscon". For me its not about the sheriff being gay. Its about the abuse of power/character on his behalf. To be hounding/cornering someone up and have them live in fear. Thats very cowardly on his part. People think they have control over everything/everyone because of their power. One person does make a difference, im glad Jose decided to speak about such abuse. The sad thing is that his supporters dont see the abuse of power as an issue. I wont be voting for him.

    February 20, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Missy Me

    to believe Jose's story, you have to believe that an illegal immigrant would work to elect a staunch oppoenent of illegal immigration – doesn't make any sense. His story is nothing more than that of a jilted exlover out to destroy the one who rejected him. Sad. I actually feel bad for Babeu. CNN, why did you run this story with no proof that Babeu threatened to deport him (fyi – a sheriff cannot deport anyone – onlyl the feds can do that, certainly both Jose and the sheriff know that, but many readers may not). in the end, Jose is accussing Babeu of threatening something that he doesn't have the power to do. There is nothing wrong with being gay, looking for relationships online, etc. This is gay bullying in the extreme. Shame on you CNN

    February 20, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. HenryB

    Yup, another pious, family, friend, faith Republican. These people just don't get that the reason we don't like them is because they are gay but because of their hypocrisy. I hope this sheriff loses whatever political office he seeks and is thrown out during the next election. Maybe he can become a prison guard at Florence, AZ where Bubba will surely appreciate him.

    February 20, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Independent in NC

    This is abuse of power. A criminal investigation should begin soon.

    February 20, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. cali girl

    Dirty deeds can come from every place. Who cares if his is gay, does it make it a crime? The crime is the threat, which he should lose his job for and possible legal action. Just not good news for the GOP by the way.

    February 20, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Thomas

    The only thing that would make this a better story would be if Sheriff Babeu was doing Grover Norquist.

    Log Cabin GOPs for Truth !

    February 20, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Greg in Arkansas

    It's not the fact that he is gay......What I cannot accept is that a gay man is a republican
    he is more than happy to have the 'evil liberals' do battle for his rights, but to run against the people that champion his cause is down-right disgusting......but it seems that disgusting is an asset to the GOP

    February 20, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Doe

    Why would anybody believe or vote for a Republican? This is a great example of their "Family Values."

    February 20, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  14. jerseylou

    This Gay Republican Sheriff is well cooked,might as well hanged the Spurs up.Brokeback Mountain is looking for someone to run it's town.

    February 20, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  15. Mary

    Please, please dont interview Sheriff Joe about questions related to Arizona, immigration, Sheriff Babeu, or anything else! The man is an idiot and gets way more press nationally than he deserves. I live in AZ and am tired of the pandering and media attention to one of America's hot wind bags! He should be removed from office soon but I sure wish the FBI would have made something stick.

    February 20, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  16. smitvict

    Since Jose says he is legal, there is no foundation to threaten deportation. No abuse of power, no threat. Sounds like Jose is a sore boyfriend who got dissed. Tough luck dude.

    February 20, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. john hollowell

    One day u will get the picture,keep on believing in the GOP. Another example of aburse of power.

    February 20, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  18. Fenris1

    Who cares if he's gay? Oh, wait, the Republicans do. For the rest of us, that's not the issue at all. The issue is abuse of power. That's why "studboi" needs to have no police powers, no powers of any kind IF these allegations are true. It's merely a spurned lover talking now, so those allegations could be utterly false.

    February 20, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. TheStateofAffairs

    Gay men can be found in every corner of the world. Some find their lives are easy and others find their lives are complicated by survival tactics that force them to lie and decieve. That latter world is the trap where most of these bullies are encountered. Probably thought to be straight in his youth and adolescence and sensing fear and threat of death, the sheriff hid and pretended and became a different persona than that which he really was. Lie begets lie and the whole thing is impossible to get out of without complete and utter destruction of someone's life. We need to settle this by declaring complete immunity and force all to come out and be truthful about who they are without any fear or threat of retribution. Otherwise this story will continue on and on. Affairs of the heart know no gender, social, or class boundaries. It is now and will always be the current state of affiars. – if you are interested in this topic, read my next book, The Lies We Lead.

    February 20, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  20. Kenny

    I bet MItt just loved hearing he had a gay man in his campaign in a very prominant position after his positions have been made known on gay serving in the Military. In all honesty, it's perfectly fine except that Republicans do not even wish to own their very own Log Cabin Republicans.

    February 20, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  21. Jimmy-James

    And here some people thought gay men were different than straight men. The difference really isn't all that much afterall.

    February 20, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  22. GOP4EVER

    What?!?! Another closet-gay Republican?! I could have never imagined...

    Good thing the GOP has Santorum to initiate a holy "Final Solution" to extinguish gays, contraception, and deficits.

    February 20, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  23. AMERICA 1st

    A gay sheriff should mt be allowed.

    February 20, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. JC

    They shouldn't have released his business name. A simple business trade name search on the Arizona government website releases his full name, amongst other information. If I were CNN I would omit his company name from the article.

    February 20, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. kayla

    "family values" the repugs preach about, in the bible jesus called those people 'HYPOCRITES"

    February 20, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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