Sheriff Paul Babeu Babeued Himself, Leaps Ahead of Facts in Border Agent's Death
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's insatiable desire to stand in the limelight has once again bitten him in the keister.
This time, he latched onto the death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie as a way to get center stage and deliver his anti-President Obama sentiments.
See also: Jan Brewer May Have Paul Babeu'd Herself
"It should not be a surprise that that we have had four Arizona border patrol agents murdered in the last two years and the Obama administration, even some members of the media, do not want us to talk about this and say we make this political," Babeu is quoted as saying in an October 7 article posted on Examiner.com.
Of course, by Friday, October 5, FBI and Border Patrol union officials already were saying that the shooting probably was the result of "friendly fire," meaning the Border Patrol agents accidentally shot at each other.
It's ironic that Babeu gives off an air of righteous indignation, claiming "members of the media ... say we make this political," because that is exactly what he is doing -- using this tragedy as an opportunity to blast President Obama and his adminsitration.
It's the same political play that once made him a rising star in the Republican Party, juiced his now-failed bid for a seat in Arizona Fourth Congressional District, and landed him as co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Arizona. He was a fixture on national conservative radio and television shows.
That was before New Times wrote about Babeu's Mexican ex-lover claiming the sheriff and the sheriff's attorney, Chris DeRose, threatened him. That was before Babeu sent half-naked photos of himself to unknown individuals, before he posted a very sexually explicit profile of himself on adam4adam.com, a hook up site for gay men, and before details were known of his past as headmaster at DeSisto School, a Massachusetts boarding school for troubled teens that was shut down over allegations of sexual and physical abuse.
Both Babeu and his ex-lover were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in their very public love spat, but questions persist about Babeu's professional judgement. He has to rehab his image as a tough-on-the-border lawman, and shootings like this one give him the perfect venue to capture an audience.
On October 3, FOX 10 News turns to Babeu to speculate on "how the shooters were able to fire on the border agents," says morning show co-host Rick D'Amico.
Under the headline, "Sheriff Babeu: Agent shooting suspects likely using military grade weapons," Babeu says:
"Whether they're bandits or whether they're actual cartels members, what they have, oftentimes, is they're armed to the teeth, to the same level, if not, greater than local law enforcement. They have, usually, AK-47s, semi-automatic, sometimes fully automatic weapons," he tells the television personalities.
And even though he qualifies his statements in the middle of the interview, saying, "All this information is yet to be known, and we have to wait for a full investigation to find out exactly what happens," he immediately follows it up with "But these people are not from America, and they're heavily armed in our country. And then there's this big debate about, well, are people politicizing it? People are already attacking our governor. Well, well, wait a minute! We've had four Border Patrol Agents and border-related deaths in the last two years. What's going on here?!"
Brewer also has caught heat for blasting the Obama administration over the death of the agent -- for running her mouth without waiting to find out actually what happened that night in the middle of the desert.
Babeu, eager to make the border conditions fit his own narrative, reacted the same way when his deputies were called out to a scene in Vekol Valley where five charred bodies were still smoldering in a vehicle.
That tragedy he blamed on a violent cartel hit and the result of the Obama Administration not securing the U.S.-Mexico border. But investigators later said the bodies actually belonged to a Tempe family involved in a murder/suicide.
Babeu had said that those five people -- three of whom were later identified as children -- in the burned SUV could have been involved in smuggling activities, and the embattled sheriff declared all the evidence was pointing to a "violent drug cartel" hit.
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.