Sheriff Paul Babeu confirms he's gay, denies other allegations

FLORENCE, AZ - Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced during a Saturday news conference in Florence that he is gay.

The announcement came as he denied allegations that he threatened an ex-lover with deportation as reported by the Phoenix New Times .

Babeu said he had a personal relationship with a man named Jose who also volunteered to work on Babeu's website, social media sites and financial transactional system.

Babeu said when others came on board in paid positions and their relationship ended Jose took control of the website and was posting as Babeu.

A cease and desist order was issued against Jose, who responded with a letter and returned control of the website to Babeu.

Jose reportedly told the Phoenix New Times that Babeu threatened to deport him if he ever talked about their relationship.

Babeu said, "It's blatantly, completely false."

"I never believed he was less legal than I am or you are," he said.

He said he has no authority to deport, only enforce laws and there was no enforcement action in this case.

Babeu said people have asked him about being gay, saying it was none of their business but now it's out there for all to see.

He said the measure of who he is is how he was handling the issue today by taking for responsibility for all the issues out there at the moment.

"It's almost as if there's a relief today, almost to not be threatened," Babeu said.

Babeu also stepped down today as Arizona's co-chair for Mitt Romney's campaign in order to focus on the allegations. He said he was not pressured and that Romney's campaign agreed with his decision.

He also said he is taking no legal action against the man accused of hacking into his accounts.

Meanwhile, those running against Babeu in the 4th Congressional District lashed out at the sheriff over his alleged actions.

"For Paul Babeu to post those kinds of photographs on those kinds of websites it just shows a dramatic lack of judgment by an elected official," said Arizona State Senator Ron Gould who is running against Babeu.

The other opponent for the congressional seat, Congressman Paul Gosar, sent a statement to ABC15 saying, "This is about an abuse of power, a misuse of public trust, and the continued use of official resources for personal and political gain."

Gosar went on to take aim on Babeu's Saturday news conference saying, "In light of these new accusations, he hosted a campaign press conference, in uniform at the sheriff's office, with sheriff's office employees, campaign staff and campaign volunteers intermingled."

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