Democrats release Babeu attack ad using ABC15 reports about abusive boarding school

Posted at 6:50 PM, Sep 01, 2016

The campaign arm of the Democratic Party has launched a television advertisement blitz that's targeting Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu over his tenure running an abusive boarding school.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a 30-second commercial that began airing Thursday on Arizona television stations, including ABC15.

The advertisement is made up entirely of clips from ABC15 investigative reports about Babeu’s time at the DeSisto School in Stockbridge, MA. (ABC15 had no role in the production of the spot).


Babeu won the primary election to be the Republican candidate in Arizona’s first congressional district. He will face Democrat Tom O’Halleran in November’s general election.

Democratic campaign officials didn’t immediately provide details on how much they plan to spend on airing the advertisement or for how long. But Babeu’s tenure at the DeSisto School will be a focal point in the campaign against him.

In fact, Babeu’s opponent also released a statement about Babeu and DeSisto.

"The ugly truth is that Paul Babeu oversaw a school where there was rampant child abuse. Then he lied about it,” O’Halleran said. “To my mind, that disqualifies him from being our voice in Congress."

An ABC15 investigation in 2012 revealed that the DeSisto School was shut down by state child care officials after a years-long investigation that was launched in the middle of Babeu’s tenure as headmaster and executive director.

Babeu has repeatedly denied a role in DeSisto’s abusive and inhumane punishments. His campaign spokesman also recently told the Washington Post that Babeu had "nothing, zip, zero, zilch" to do with discipline.

However, ABC15 obtained a damning home video showing Babeu discussing the abusive practices in specific and precise detail. The video also shows Babeu touting and praising the extreme discipline, calling it “amazing” and saying that students need to feel “hopeless” and “depression.”

ABC15 has also interviewed many students who said that Babeu lived on campus and routinely attended meetings where discipline was discussed and approved.

Watch the ABC15’s investigation about the home video below:

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at