Arizona- Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu stepped down from his position as Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign amid allegations that he and his attorney threatened to have a former lover deported.
In a statement outside of his office, Babeu said "I'm here to say that all of these accusations that are in one of these newspapers are absolutely false, except to the issues that refer to me as being gay."
Babeu's former boyfriend alleged in a Phoenix New Times report published Thursday that Babeu and his attorney threatened him with deportation if the man revealed their relationship. Babeu said Saturday he had no reason to believe that the man, identified in the news report only as Jose, was an illegal immigrant. The New Times reported the man is originally from central Mexico.
The sheriff said Saturday that the man was also a volunteer on his congressional campaign, and when their relationship failed, Babeu alleged the man took control of campaign social media and committed identity theft. Babeu said at the press conference that his attorney contacted the man, who contacted his own lawyer after feeling threatened by contact from Babeu and his attorney.
Video of Babeu's press conference below. Babeu starts the question and answer segment at the one minute mark.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Arizona Republic in a statement "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."
Babeu has been an outspoken critic of the Federal government on the issue of illegal immigration.
Babeu's website offers another statement regarding his press conference yesterday:
Yesterday, a tabloid article made a number of false allegations about me. Only one was true: I’m gay. Today, I held a press conference to discuss this. I want to be judged on my service: 20 years in the military, two deployments – including one in Iraq, a police officer who has responded to thousands of calls for help, and a Sheriff who has cut response times while reducing my own budget. I hope you will stand with me as we talk about the issues that matter: securing our border and ending the record debt and deficit spending that is stalling our economy and bankrupting the country we all love..