Babeu's Reckless and Threatening Behavior Have Enmeshed Him in a Career-Ending Scandal

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But how can Babeu contend he lives "very privately" when he sent nude photos to a man named Matt whom he'd never met?

I've heard of cognitive dissonance, but this is the first time I've ever seen it used as a talking point.

True, Babeu isn't married. In fact, if he wanted to marry another man in Arizona, he couldn't. Arizona has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

During the media event featuring the sheriff's employees, Babeu, when asked about gay marriage and gays in the military, expressed support for both.

It's a sure bet that Babeu would not have taken either one of these stands before being forced to come out. In GOP-dominated CD4, he faces Tea Partying Congressman Paul Gosar and state Senator Ron Gould in the August 28 Republican primary.

It's a point of pride with Gould that he was one of the sponsors of the gay-marriage ban, put to the voters as a referendum in 2008 and passed by a majority statewide.

Of the three counties that make up most of the newly formed CD4 (Yavapai, Mohave, and La Paz) it passed by 61, 66, and 66 percent, respectively — which shows how deeply conservative CD4 is.

"He's a man without a base right now," Gould told me recently. "He's appealed to right-wing conservatives with his border stance. But those same right-wing conservatives don't support gay marriage and gays in the military."

Gould also observed that Babeu took these stances only after his coming-out party in Florence, saying, "The real Paul Babeu is in conflict with the fake Paul Babeu."

Gould and Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios, a Democrat, are about as far apart politically as Mitt Romney and California Governor Jerry Brown, but Rios and Gould agree on one thing: When you sign up for a career in politics, you lose claim to a private life.

Rios has called on Babeu to resign, citing the sheriff's "poor judgment" and the abuse-of-power allegations leveled against him by Orozco, who recently told CNN that he's in the United States on a 10-year, multiple-entry tourist visa.

Rios noted Babeu's handling of the investigation of former Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll, whose claim of getting ambushed in the desert and wounded by Mexican drug smugglers was demolished by New Times writer Paul Rubin ("Pinalcchio," September 23, 2010).

Babeu backed Puroll's bogus tale, but when Puroll conveyed a not-so-subtle death threat to Rubin, supposedly from a pal of Puroll's, Babeu fired him after an internal investigation ("White Wash," November 25, 2010).

In a news release announcing Puroll's dismissal, Babeu noted that Puroll had "brought great discredit to himself and the men and women representing our sworn law enforcement profession."

Said Rios, "I would argue that this exact quote applies to Paul Babeu."

Beyond that, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board's code of ethics — which officers such as sheriff's deputies swear to — states: "Whether on or off duty," an officer will do nothing to bring "discredit or embarrassment" to his or her department.

If Babeu were an ordinary deputy pulling the same stunts, he'd probably be placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

A Peoria police sergeant's recent post on his personal Facebook page of a crew of high school kids holding guns and a bullet-riddled T-shirt bearing the image of President Barack Obama was all it took to get him reassigned and investigated.

The sergeant later was demoted and suspended without pay for two weeks.

Also, Chandler cop Ronald Dible was fired in 2002 for running a porn website featuring explicit photos of his wife. Dible challenged his dismissal all the way to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and lost.

The court concluded that Dible had "the constitutional right to run his sex-oriented business" but no such right "to be a policeman for the city [of Chandler] at the same time."

Gould pegs Babeu as so "arrogant" that he believes the rules surrounding police work don't apply to him.

Babeu also displays shameless chutzpah as he plays the victim card.

The spin isn't working. Before the scandal, polls showed Babeu leading Gosar, with Gould coming in a not-too-distant third.

More recently, a survey reported by the Capitol Times' Yellow Sheet after New Times' revelatory story was published shows Babeu's support dropping significantly, with the sheriff five points behind Gosar and five points ahead of Gould.

Expect the trend to continue, as Gould and Gosar pummel him regularly and as further revelations are unearthed, such as recent allegations aired by Channel 15 of former students at Massachusetts' now-defunct DeSisto boarding school for troubled teens, where Babeu was headmaster from 1999-2001.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons