Pinal County’s best-kept secret is out.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu gained national attention for being a tough-on-immigration leader (some called him the new, shiny-headed Sheriff Joe Arpaio), but the attention he got from the Phoenix New Times in a story published yesterday is the kind of spotlight he’s been trying to avoid for most of his life.
Following that report — which focused on Babeu’s sexual relationship with a supposed illegal immigrant man whom he sent semi-nude photos to and who threatened to out the sheriff as gay after their relationship soured - Babeu told a crowd of reporters gathered outside his office today that he his gay.
The report says Babeu, who recently announced he is running for Congress in the new Congressional District 4, and his lawyer threatened the man, who is only identified as Jose, with deportation if he did not stop posting anonymous comments online about the sheriff’s sexuality.
“All these allegations that were in one of these newspapers are absolutely, completely false,” Babeu said today. “Except for the issues that refer to me being gay, because that’s the truth: I am gay.”