Paul Babeu's Congressional Campaign Contributions Collapse in the Weeks Following Allegations He Abused His Power, Threatened His Gay Lover with Deportation
Contributions to congressional hopeful Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu barely trickled in during March, with the once-popular lawman pocketing a mere $6,700 in the wake of multiple scandals that have enveloped him, his agency and his campaign.
By comparison, Congressman Paul Gosar, who is also running for a seat in Arizona's Fourth Congressional District, raised $80,000 that same month.
Overall, Babeu raised $144,007 during the first three months of this year -- which represents a little more than half of the $263,000 he was able to raise in the last three months of 2011.
Gosar managed to pull in $115,000 during the first quarter of the year, and although he was out-raised by Babeu during the same time period, it is clear that the sheriff's campaign is losing momentum.
In the week following New Times' February 17 story detailing allegations that Babeu and his attorney threatened Babeu's ex-boyfriend with deportation if he revealed their romance, there was a huge fundraising push by Camp Babeu.
Paul Babeu's campaign cash flow.
The public learned that Babeu was taking and sending naked and half-naked photos of himself to an man he'd never met and posted a profile of himself on adam4adam.com, a hook up site for gay men.
Babeu made a round of television and radio appearances, dismissing the allegations and insisting that he was under attack because he is gay, and that he was the real victim.
People rallied around him, and he managed to raise about $26,000 during that week -- a much larger take than Gosar's $7,900 during the same time.
The spike may have offered some hope for Camp Babeu, but increased media scrutiny has chilled donors' generosity.
Indeed, Babeu's credibility has been seriously fractured by news about his role as headmaster and executive director of DeSisto School, a private boarding school in Massachusetts shut down over allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
The downward spiral only continued with allegations by Lucy Babeu, his sister, and several other DeSisto students that Babeu was involved in a relationship with a 17-year-old male student, allegations that members of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office are engaging in political campaigning while on the job; allegations that Babeu's office didn't want to turn over laptops requested as part of an investigation over on-the-job politicking; allegations that his office deleted e-mails that should have been preserved per Arizona's Public Records Law; an apparent attempt by one of Babeu's lieutenants to cover up the arrest of a man accused of attacking an Arizona Department of Public Safety office and a PCSO detective.
And, if Babeu can persuade his die-hard supporters to chalk all of that up to baseless attacks driven by his political enemies, he still has to explain a $1.6 million budget shortfall in his office.
It just doesn't inspire confidence among the fiscal conservatives he wants to win over.
Babeu's loss has certainly been Gosar's gain.
Some interesting tidbits:
During the fourth quarter of 2011, Babeu attracted 61 donors who pitched in $2,500 to his campaign, but that figure dropped to only 16 during the first quarter of 2012.
Gosar continues to pick up big donations from from political-action committees and various groups, three Indian tribes and National Mining Association, American Bankers Association, the Associated General Contractors of America and the National Rifle Association's Victory Fund.
In the first quarter of this year, such groups pitched in $39,500 to Camp Gosar.
Babeu's net contributions are $407,310 during this election cycle. His opponents, Gosar and Ron Gould, have raised $687,904 and $116,425, respectively.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.