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Babeu defends sending naked picture to ex-boyfriend

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu answers questions about allegations of threatening an ex-boyfriend with deportation in return for keeping quiet about their relationship. (Photo by Jim Small/Arizona Capitol Times)

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu today emphatically denied allegations that he or his attorney threatened to deport a jilted ex-lover after their relationship soured, as a Phoenix newspaper reported on Friday, and said he plans to remain sheriff and continue his campaign for higher office.

Babeu, a Republican who is running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District, just as emphatically defended his right to take sexually explicit photographs of himself and send them to boyfriends.

“We’re talking about personal liberties and freedoms,” he told dozens of reporters Saturday afternoon at a press conference.

Though he said he had not posted or sent explicit photos of himself “for some extreme time,” Babeu did not say he wouldn’t do so again in the future.

Flanked by dozens of supporters, including many of his top sheriff’s commanders who were wearing their uniforms, Babeu addressed claims made Friday by the Phoenix New Times. The alternative weekly newspaper published a story on its website early Friday evening in which his ex-boyfriend and the ex-boyfriend’s attorney said the sheriff and one of his closest aides threatened to deport the man if he spoke publicly of his years-long romantic relationship with Babeu.

“At no time did I or anyone who represents me threaten deportation. Ever,” Babeu said of the allegation. “It’s blatantly and completely false.”

The press conference also served as a platform for Babeu to announce that he is a homosexual, a rumor that has been prevalent in political circles since he was elected sheriff in 2008. Babeu blamed his “political opponents” for fabricating the allegations that he threatened an ex-boyfriend as “the vehicle in which (my sexuality) would be brought out publicly.”

“I think it’s clear to most people that there was an effort to harm me personally…and politically,” he said.

In addition to accusing Babeu of abusing his power as both a law enforcement officer and an elected official, theNew Times story included descriptions of photographs that Babeu took of himself and sent electronically to his ex-boyfriend. Some of the photos, including one in which Babeu is in his underwear, were published with the story. The paper also reported that another photo showed the sheriff naked from the waist down.

He acknowledged today that the photos, along with a profile on a gay dating website, were authentic. However, he said they did not reflect poorly on his judgment.

“What I do in my private, personal life is my business. I don’t see that (it was bad judgment),” he said.

Though he later acknowledged that the matter was “not so private any longer,” on more than a dozen occasions he refused to answer questions that he said were about his private life.

“Quite frankly, it’s none of your business,” he snapped in response to a question about sexually suggestive text messages cited in the New Times story.

Babeu also rejected comparisons to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat who was forced to resign last year after he used the Internet to send a sexually graphic photo of himself to a young woman. Unlike Weiner, Babeu said he was not married and didn’t lie to cover up his actions, as Weiner initially did.

“We’re not hiding or ashamed of anything,” he said. “I want to set the record straight, because I want to get on to the real business of Arizona.”


  1. Talk about a double standard! It’s OK to be gay if you’re a liberial Demoncrat but not if you’re a conservative Republican. Wher are all the gay rights support groups now? Will they support the sheriff, like they support Rep. Barney Frank and the rest of the gay Demoncrats. Any low life thing the New Times can do to take a good conservative person down they will do. This isn’t about being gay it’s about being conservative.

  2. Actually Phil, it’s about being gay and hiding it while threatening others who might reveal it. It’s called abuse of power. He also violated police ethical standards by posting nude photos of himself on gay websites. Barney Franks was open about his homosexuality…big difference.

  3. NO. It’s about smearing and defaming a man who is against ILLEGAL lawbreakers with a re-conquest movement supported and backed by the Mexican government. There id NOTHING benign about what is hsppening to the USA. This is s vendetta orchestrated by the pro-amnesty groups like La Raz. Americans wake up and realize what is truly going on!!!!!

  4. When situations like this happen and the individual, by choice, makes it public by utilizing public websites, their intent is to be public. They know the consequences for their actions. If you still choose to continue to go in that direction, then the public will engage and have opinions about your judgement, especially if you are in law enforcement and your judgment is critical to the safety of citizens. Public trust in law enforcement is of high priority! When it is lost….then your chances for being seen as effective is also lost.

  5. Oh please. I would’ve supported him politically but let’s face it: He used ridiculously poor judgment, more so for someone running for Congress. He damaged himself. He needs to accept and admit that he made errors in judgment, re-group and try again in a couple of years after doing a little public penance by accepting responsibility. If his “conversations” concerning deportation don’t prove criminally chargeable, he can recover. People sympathetic to strong immigration enforcement will be eager to forgive if he’ll just have sense enough to keep his pants on in public – and in private photos that might become public.

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