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Sheriff Babeu, a nationally recognized anti-immigration figure, is also running for Congress.
The Romney campaign today suffered a stinging embarrassment in one of the few places where the former Massachusetts governor is still leading in the polls.
The Arizona Republic reports today that the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign in the state, the nationally recognized anti-immigration sheriff of Pinal county Paul Babeu, has resigned to address allegations that he threatened to deport his Mexican ex-boyfriend in order to keep their affair a secret.
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At a news conference today, Babeu, who is himself running for Congress, acknowledged that he is gay but denied the allegations, according to local radio station KTAR.
“I am here to say all of these allegations are false but I am gay,” Babeu was quoted as saying.
The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday that the putative ex-boyfriend, identified only as Jose to prevent his apprehension for visa violations, had provided photographs supporting his claim to have had a sexual relationship with Babeu and alleged that Babeu’s lawyer Charles DeRose had threatened to deport him in order obtain his silence about the affair.
The New Times quoted Jose’s attorney, Melissa Weiss-Riner, as saying she had personally spoken to DeRose who she alleged had repeated the threats.
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In an e-mail to The Huffington Post, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul was quoted as saying: “Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him. […] We support his decision.”
DeRose has also denied the allegations.
According to RealClearPolitics, Romney has enjoyed unambiguous leads over his main rival Rick Santorum in Arizona despite trailing him nationally