Known only as “Jose,” a Mexican immigrant has outed a famous Arizona immigration-hawk sheriff, CPAC speaker, and congressional candidate who rose to conservative stardom after a cameo appearance in John McCain’s famous “Dang Fence” campaign ad.
In a story published in the Phoenix New Times, Jose claims that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu’s lawyer threatened him with deportation if he spilled the beans about their alleged love affair.
Following the report, Babeu hastily called a press conference on Saturday during which he announced, “I’m gay.” He admitted having a “personal relationship” with Jose but said “at no time” did he or anyone who worked for him threaten Jose with deportation.
Babeu, 43, a Mitt Romney supporter, said that in light of his “coming out” he “chose” to step down as a co-chairman of the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign. Surrounded by supportive deputies, Babeu said the Republican Party had a big tent, and he would continue actively campaigning for an Arizona congressional seat.
“This is my private life,” he said, “and now it’s out for the world to see… The measure of who I am is how I’m handling this today.”
Jose told the Phoenix New Times that he and the sheriff had been romantically involved for several years. When the relationship ended, Jose told the newspaper, Babeu’s lawyer threatened Jose with deportation if he revealed the affair.
On Saturday, Babeu expressed relief at having come out but repeatedly said his personal life was his own business.
“I’m not married, I’m a single guy, I don’t have a fake girlfriend,” he said. “I haven’t seen women for a long time on a romantic basis.”
UPDATE: Sheriff Babeu appeared on CNN today with Wolf Blitzer to give his side of the story. To be fair, he came across strong, fair and intelligent. While I don’t agree with his political party, I do want to be fair and say he did well for himself. Wolf gave him a chance to speak freely and Sheriff Babeu was not only articulate but came across pretty fair-minded.