Another Arizona sheriff with a tough anti-illegal immigration stance is coming under fire for alleged abuse of power. But given the strange twists, even typically loquacious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio doesn’t want to offer advice.
A Phoenix News Times investigation revealed that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a darling of the Republican party and vocal anti-illegal immigration figure, is gay and allegedly threatened his Mexican ex-boyfriend with deportation after they broke off their three-year relationship.
Babeu, who is running for a congressional seat in Arizona, confirmed this week that he is gay, but denied that he ever sought to deport his former lover. The Republican sheriff said in a news conference that he will continue his congressional bid, but he did decide to step down from his position as Arizona co-chairman for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Babeu said that his boyfriend, who news outlets have only referred to as Jose, is a legal immigrant and that no threats were ever made.
Appearing Monday on CNN, Arpaio said: “He’s going to have to work through this. I’m not going to give him any advice.”
Arpaio, dubbed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” said on the program that he hadn’t made a decision to publicly support Babeu’s bid for Congress in Arizona, despite Babeu’s request for his endorsement.
Arpaio has come under scrutiny himself. In December, the Justice Department released a scathing report, culminating three years of investigation, that alleges grave misconduct by his office. The report states officers engaged in a pattern of discriminatory policing against Latinos.
Yesterday, Latino rights group “Respect-Respeto” wrote to the Justice Department’s Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division, requesting he investigate Babeu for alleged abuses of power.
“These types of threats and acts of intimidation send a horrible message to the migrant community that they cannot look to theirlaw enforcement agencies for protection when they are victims of a crime,” the letter states.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said officials are reviewing the request but otherwise declined to comment.