Jan Brewer Endorses Paul Babeu for Congress, Wendy Rogers Blasts Both

In the latest episode of that uniquely Arizona political soap opera, The Shameless and the Stupid, and hot off her "Someone Please Pay Attention to Me" tour of the media tents at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has endorsed Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu in the GOP primary for Arizona's First Congressional District.

Surprised? Well, you shouldn't be. After all, Brewer is one of the dumbest pols ever to set foot on the ninth floor of the state capitol's executive tower. She was essentially a figurehead for six years, while Brewer's Brain, a.k.a. political guru Chuck Coughlin of HighGround Public Affairs, pulled her strings, earning him the unofficial title of "shadow governor."

True to her well-deserved reputation for fatuousness, in a press release issued Monday by the Babeu campaign, Brewer is quoted as saying, "Other candidates give speeches, while Paul is a doer who gives Republicans the best chance to turn CD1 from blue to red."

He's a "doer," all right, a point made by Babeu's nemesis in the crowded CD1 primary, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Col. Wendy Rogers, in a response issued almost immediately after the Babeu camp mass-e-mailed its statement heralding Brewer's endorsement.

"I guess Jan Brewer hasn't seen the naked photos Paul posted of himself to a website trafficking in gay pornography, or perhaps she hasn't read that Paul is under investigation by the FBI, or that he tried to deport his Mexican boyfriend when their relationship soured. I guess Jan doesn't have access to any news whatsoever, because Paul Babeu is probably the least qualified person to ever run for this congressional seat."

Ouch. Babeu may need some Neosporin for that burn. (Maybe he can share a tube with Brewer — Rogers' line about the former guv not having "access to any news whatsoever" must've hurt, too.) 

For those unfamiliar with Babeu's résumé, the website "trafficking in gay pornography," is Adam4Adam.com, on which Babeu once had a profile under the nom de guerre "studboi1." The "Mexican boyfriend" is Jose Orozco, who in 2012 alleged that Babeu threatened to have him deported if he didn't keep his lips zipped concerning Babeu's then-closeted homosexuality. And the "FBI investigation" is a reference to an ABC 15 news story from earlier this year, reporting that FBI agents had been conducting interviews in Pinal County concerning Babeu's use of RICO funds.  

Rogers' latest riposte continues her strategy of publicly pummeling the six-candidate field's putative frontrunner with reminders of his indiscretions and misdeeds. In February, Rogers slammed Babeu at a Republican women's forum over his tenure as headmaster and executive director of Massachusetts' infamous DeSisto School for troubled teens. 

DeSisto was shuttered in 2004, following an investigation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that exposed abusive practices at the school. Babeu has denied knowledge of the torture-like punishments meted out to students, despite a 1999 Babeu family home video that shows him describing and approving of some of those practices.

The swirl of scandals induced Babeu to suspend his campaign for Congress in 2012 in Arizona's Fourth Congressional District and instead run for re-election as sheriff.

His recent press release mentions a "landslide reelection in 2012." (He garnered 53 percent of the vote.) But there's nothing about the aborted run for Congress, nor the fact that in shifting back to sheriff, he muscled aside his own chief deputy, Steve Henry, who'd already announced his intention to run for the job his boss was ostensibly abandoning. Henry was forced to take down his campaign website and put his ambitions on hold. This year, he's again running to replace Babeu, who has endorsed him — just as he did four years ago, before stabbing Henry in the back. 

Babeu's press release calls Brewer "the architect of Arizona's economic comeback" and claims she "balanced the state budget," though neither assertion is accurate. As was widely reported as she exited office, Brewer left the state with a $1.5 billion budget shortfall that resulted in further draconian cuts in state spending in 2015 after Doug Ducey took office. 

Brewer began her revisionist propaganda about an "Arizona comeback" in early 2014. Later that year, the state continued to lag the rest of the nation in recovering from the Great Recession, with 20 percent of the state's inhabitants living below the poverty line.

The release quotes Babeu as declaring that Brewer "remains extremely popular," and that "[v]oters absolutely love and trust her."

Brewer is so beloved in her own party that she couldn't even get elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

During the state GOP convention in April, she vied to be a delegate from her congressional district but only made alternate. Whereupon she resigned that post and threw her hat into the ring along with the hundreds of Arizonans vying for 28 spots as at-large delegates.

She failed, finishing far down the list, with only 93 votes. (Attorney General Mark Brnovich placed first, with 766 votes in the at-large popularity contest. Sheriff Joe Arpaio also made the grade with 489.)

Along with several other Trump supporters, Brewer pitched a fit afterward, claiming, "I got cheated. And the people of Arizona got cheated."

Arizona GOP Party chair Robert Graham begged to differ.

"Former Governor Brewer was elected as an alternate from her district and was not one of the top three winners: she came in fifth," Graham said in a statement e-mailed to New Times after the state convention. "She resigned and tried to get a higher spot in the next election of the day, but it appears she didn't tell the Trump team. She then failed to get enough votes to become either a delegate or an alternate. She cheated herself."

Graham and Brewer eventually made up, and Brewer was appointed to fill a vacancy in the alternates via a process defined by the state party's rules. (Some elected delegates chose not to go to Cleveland, owing to dissatisfaction over Trump's winning the party's nomination, though publicly they all had official excuses for not attending.)

Like many a has-been (see: Scott Baio, Sarah Palin, et al.), Brewer has hitched her sinking star to the presidential campaign of the billionaire tanning-bed addict, appearing onstage with him during his visits to Sand Land and even volunteering (unbidden) for consideration as Trump's running mate. (Granted, Rogers, like most Rs, supports the GOP's presidential nominee, but in her case, it's not driven by desperation.)

Brewer didn't even make the lame roster of speakers at the Republican National Convention — a list that included such oratorical heavyweights as hirsute Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson and actor/underwear model Antonio Sabàto Jr.

Talk about a low bar.

In conclusion, Babeu states in his release that he is "proud to have earned Governor Brewer's" endorsement. Which, considering the status of both politicians, sounds like a race to the bottom.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons