Pinal County Sheriff Babeu held a press conference on Saturday to knock down allegations that he threatened to deport his former boyfriend, dismissing those charges as false. But the denial leaves some unanswered questions.
At first blush the idea of Babeu bravely standing before the media and admitting that he is gay – essentially “owning” the issue – seems like a good idea, but the press conference actually raised more questions than it answered.
The role of Babeu’s attorney and campaign manager, Chris DeRose is unclear, and needs further explanation. What exactly did DeRose say and do in his interactions with the former boyfriend and his attorney?
If this is about private and personal issues, why would Babeu feel compelled to tell the Romney camp that he was stepping down as the state co-chair of the campaign?
Why would Babeu need to make an obvious statement that he couldn’t deport someone himself? No one doubts that – I’m sure not even his former boyfriend. To raise that seems odd.
Why is Babeu not threatening legal action against the former boyfriend for making such a “false accusation?” Babeu and his attorney seemed more than ready to utilize the legal system when all the guy had done was log into a website and twitter account. But he accuses Babeu of illegal activity and abuse of power and Babeu’s response is to hold a press conference?
One text exchange reported in the New Times story implies there was more to this than just website tampering.
In one series of texts Jose provided, the sheriff himself appears to be threatening his former lover:
Babeu: “You can never have business after this and you will harm me and many others in the process . . . including yourself & your family.”
Babeu followed with: “And you say you have loved me? Papi . . . this is no good.”
Jose responded: “Good threats. Wont work. Im already hurt me . . . and you didn’t care.”
Jose: “Dont threat me. Thats illegal. Im just speaking . . . true.”
Babeu: “You have crossed the line. Better get an attorney. You brother will also be contacted.”
What did Babeu mean when he wrote “You brother will also be contacted”? This drama is far from over.
Which is why for many political hacks like me, the idea of a press conference didn’t seem to make sense. Long-time PR guru, David Leibowitz tweeted: Can’t believe Babeu is holding a press conference. File this under PR/political disaster.
Sharpe is right that Babeu handled himself with grace and dignity on the issue of being gay, but that’s not what this story is or should be about.
One of the things that has many political observers buzzing is the seemingly disregard between Babeu’s official office and his campaign. That was only highlighted as he continued to insist that his private life was “out of bounds.” If he is going to use that defense, it can’t be done in uniform in front of the Sheriff’s office with more than a dozen Sheriff’s officers, in uniform, standing behind him.
There appears to be a pattern of the blurring of the official versus campaign lines. For example, Babeu uses the exact photograph on his campaign website as is posted on the Pinal County Sheriff’s website. Not legal.
This is far from settled.