Ruben Gallego Touts Endorsement from Superior Mayor, a Politician Who Helped Get Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Paul Babeu Elected
Ruben Gallego's campaign is touting an endorsement from Jayme Valenzuela, mayor of Superior -- and making sure to note that that's Mary Rose Wilcox's hometown.
Gallego and Wilcox both are running for Arizona's 7th Congressional District seat.
Valenzuela says Gallego "has a record of honest and true public service we can trust."
Camp Gallego may be proud of what it perceives as a political "gotcha" to Wilcox, but given Valenzuela's personal and political history, it's hardly anything to get excited about -- especially when you've made fighting for immigrants' rights and immigration reform a campaign priority.
See also: -Babeu's "Elite" Staff Overcomes Bad Behavior with Loyalty -Republican Former Gov. Fife Symington Hosted Fundraiser for Gallego -Battle Royale: Controversial Mary Rose Wilcox Is in the Political Fight of Her Life
Valenzuela is a loyalist to anti-immigrant Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, and even played a role in helping Babeu, a Massachusetts transplant, get elected into Arizona politics.
We have a call into Gallego's campaign for comment.
A brief recap on Babeu: He's the border hawk who came under fire for tipping off protestors about a busload of immigrant children who were supposedly going to be housed in an Eloy facility.
He's the right-winger with Congressional aspirations whose campaign fell apart after New Times revealed he e-mailed selfies in his underwear and of his erect penis to anonymous people and posted his penis size and his preference in sexual positions on a hook-up site for gay men.
He's the politician who, despite his very public anti-immigrant stance, was involved in a sexual relationship with a Mexican national. Babeu hired that man, Jose Orozco, to work on his campaign and then, when their relationship fell apart, Orozco alleged that Babeu threatened to deport him if he revealed the sheriff's sexual orientation.
Valenzuela publicly supported Babeu, a Republican, when he was running for sheriff in 2008. Valenzuela also ran for sheriff that year, but lost his bid in the Democratic primary.
For the support, Babeu handsomely repaid Valenzuela with a $73,257 a year job overseeing contracts for supplies and services at the Pinal County jails. At his immediately previous job, Valenzuela was a meter reader for Arizona Public Service making $34,000 a year.
What makes it worse is that Valenzuela is also a former Pinal County sheriff's deputy who was listed as ineligible to be rehired by the county because his job performance was so poor. And, his employment track record was so questionable that even his own hometown police agency -- the Superior Police Department -- refused to hire him.
And, Valenzuela is mayor of Superior, but he initially won by a mere 18 votes.
This promoted endorsement, just days before the August 26 election, comes on the heels of criticism for Gallego because disgraced Republican former Governor Fife Symington, who has made some unfriendly comments about undocumented immigrants, hosted a political fund-raiser for him.
Symington was convicted in September 1997 of criminal charges for defrauding lenders as a real estate developer in the 1980's. He resigned and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. His conviction was later overturned, and a pardon by President Bill Clinton (a boyhood friend) effectively shut down the case against him.
Aside from that association, Gallego has been dogged by his B+ approval rating from the National Rifle Association and several gun-related votes he cast while he was serving as state lawmaker, including one that prohibited limiting the magazine capacity of rifles for hunters.
His opponents point out that thousands of crimes are committed each year by assailants using rifles.
Gallego's campaign has noted that Chuck Coughlin, who helped draft Arizona's most draconian anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, gave Wilcox a $500 donation.
Coughlin has also donated to other Democratic Congressional candidates.
New Times featured Valenzuela in 'All the Sheriff's Men," in February 2013.
Valenzuela -- a former PCSO deputy who resigned after he was demoted for poor job performance during Babeu's predecessor's regime -- was appointed to the jails job by Babeu within days of the sheriff's first taking office.
Which was additionally odd because PCSO records state that Valenzuela couldn't ever be rehired.
New Times sought comment ... about issues brought up in this article. PCSO Chief Deputy Steve Henry, Babeu's second-in-command, responded by defending current employees' actions and backgrounds.
Jayme Valenzuela ran for Pinal County sheriff in 2008 against then-Sheriff Chris Vasquez. After a bitter defeat to Vasquez in the Democratic primary, Valenzuela decided to throw his support to Vasquez's Republican challenger -- Paul Babeu.
He soon was appointed to one of three top jobs over the jails. On its face, the move looks solid, since Valenzuela worked as a Pinal County deputy from the mid-1980s until 1999.
But Valenzuela resigned his Sheriff's Office post on the same day in April 1999 that he was demoted from detective to patrolman after a documented history of shoddy performance.
Valenzuela's employment record came up in 2002 when he applied for a job as a police officer with his hometown Superior Police Department.
During an extensive background check, Superior PD Officer Edward Siemen contacted Valenzuela's previous employers, and a PCSO internal affairs sergeant told Siemen that Valenzuela was "not eligible for rehire."
In his report, Siemen, who no longer works at the Superior department, wrote that one of Valenzuela's former PCSO supervisors told him that Valenzuela "was one of the laziest deputies I ever had." Another told him that "Valenzuela would not complete reports, [that] the few reports he did complete were inadequate, and that Valenzuela was caught numerous times performing personal business while on duty, failing to report for duty when scheduled, and refusing to follow policy."
After Siemen completed his investigation, Superior's then-police chief informed Valenzuela that he didn't pass an employment background check. The chief wrote in a letter to Valenzuela: "You are not eligible for hire by this agency."
Yet despite Babeu's campaign vow to clean up the Sheriff's Office, he brought Valenzuela back into the PCSO fold when he took over in 2009.
Valenzuela's brief biography on the PCSO's website notes that he is a lifelong resident of Superior and received the office's Distinguished Service Award in 1995 for his "performance and dedication in the line of duty."
His past-employment records paint a much different picture.
On his June 2001 application for peace-officer certification (which he had to resubmit for after he resigned from the PCSO), Valenzuela wrote that he was attending the University of Phoenix. A school representative told Siemen that Valenzuela never registered for classes.
Valenzuela also claimed in his Superior application that he'd never been disciplined for improper conduct while a deputy, but PCSO records revealed the demotion and that he once was suspended without pay.
Got a tip? Send it to: Monica Alonzo.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.