Last week at CPAC, I had the opportunity to interview Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu about his fight to spread the truth about Fast and Furious, the ultimately lethal gunrunning program operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Babeu is best known for his role as an Arizona law enforcement officer with a firm desire to secure the border — but he also happens to be a candidate for Congress and a supporter of Mitt Romney. In our interview, I found him to be an extremely energetic, engaging and impassioned spokesperson for his own causes. So, when I saw the headlines today that indicated he had resigned from his position as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s Arizona operation, I was immediately intrigued. What was up? This is what I read:
An Arizona sheriff building a national profile stepped down Saturday from a state leadership position with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign after a newspaper published allegations that he threatened to deport a former boyfriend.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu denied the allegations during a press conference Saturday. He was co-chair of Romney’s campaign in Arizona and is a candidate for Congress in the state’s fourth district.
“I’m here to say that all of these accusations that are in one of these newspapers are absolutely false,” Babeu said outside his office, “except to the issues that refer to me as being gay.”
Babeu’s former boyfriend alleged in a Phoenix New Times report published Thursday that Babeu and his attorney threatened him with deportation if the man revealed their relationship. Babeu said Saturday he had no reason to believe that the man, identified in the news report only as Jose, was an illegal immigrant. The New Times reported the man is originally from central Mexico.
If covering the allegations against Herman Cain taught me anything, it’s to wait for more information to come to a conclusion about accusations of a personal nature. It’s almost never possible to be certain of the facts in he-said-she-said (or, in this case, he-said-he-said) controversies, but a general sense of things gradually emerges.
In the meantime, I can’t help but hope this scandal won’t discredit Babeu’s voice on a far bigger scandal. Remember: The DOJ either approved or overlooked an operation that led to the deaths of more than 200 people — and no criticism of or accusations against Babeu will make me forget that.