Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu Could Slither Into Congress Despite His Legendary Sordid Behavior | Phoenix New Times

Stephen Lemons Column

Paul Babeu Could Slither Into Congress Despite His Legendary Sordid Behavior

What do you call a politician who texts a “dick pic” to a man he's never met, but has merely corresponded with, after making contact through an explicit gay hookup site riddled with porn? In Arizona's First Congressional District, they may end up calling him “Congressman Babeu.” Ahead in fundraising,...
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What do you call a politician who texts a dick pic to a man he's never met and has only corresponded with through an explicit gay hookup site riddled with porn?

In Arizona's First Congressional District, they may end up calling him “Congressman Babeu.”

He's ahead in fundraising and a couple of polls show him as front runner in a field of six in the GOP primary so CD1 could be Babeu's to lose, even with the recent news that the conservative Goldwater Institute is probing Babeu's use of RICO funds

So far, it's been Wendy Rogers, the sole woman in the primary, who's done the most damage by targeting the putative front runner, Babeu. 

After ABC 15 aired a Babeu family video from 1999 showing a smiling Babeu as he described in lurid detail some of the barbaric, cult-like practices of Massachusetts' DeSisto School for wayward teens, of which he was headmaster at the time, you would've thought universal condemnation would have ensued.

Sure, Republican-turned-Democrat Tom O'Halleran, who is trying for the Dems' nomination in CD1, took a swing at Babeu over the DeSisto scandal, which is fine. 
But it was Rogers, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel and perennial candidate for Congress who carved out a hunk of Babeu's backside with a buzzsaw of a press release blasting Babeu's “twisted attempt to justify cruelty to children” and calling on him to exit the race.

“[Babeu's] own campaign website touted his executive experience from having led this school as a qualification for elected office,” said Rogers in the statement.

“He held this as evidence of experience, while he knew EXACTLY what this school did. He has lied to the voters about this, and continues to do so, even as this horrifying evidence comes to light.”

Babeu's perverse comments on the ABC 15 tape (obtained from the videographer, Paul's sister Lucy Babeu) belie the contention of his lawyers and his campaign that he knew nothing of the rampant abuses at DeSisto.

The sheriff demanded a retraction when ABC 15 first ran the story in 2012, claiming the news channel had “errantly reported” that he was “aware of the mistreatment of students during his employment at DeSisto.”

Oh, how that videotape has changed things for the sheriff.
Indeed, Babeu's veracity and character should be in question on several fronts. His predilection for barely legal young men (the subject of last week's column) raises more red flags than a parade of Chinese communists.

Similarly, the case file from the Arizona Attorney General's Office's 2012 investigation into allegations that Babeu threatened his former lover and webmaster, Jose Orozco, with deportation offers yet more evidence of why Babeu should never set foot in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At that time, the AG's Office, then under the control of Babeu's equally icky political ally Tom Horne, released only the final reports from the investigative file, exonerating Babeu from criminal wrongdoing.

But the whole magilla, recently obtained by New Times through a public records request, offers interesting ammunition that can be used against Babeu in the primary, especially if candidates other than Rogers wish to exhibit some huevos.

For instance, of the infamous photos of Babeu in various states of undress that New Times reported on four years ago, there is one of Babeu naked below the waist, which Orozco showed (but did not give) to our reporter back then.

Identifiable as Babeu from the tribal tattoos on one arm, it revealed what Babeu described in his scandalous profile as his “7" cut.”

Orozco kept the photo after pretending to be a male suitor so he could spring a trap on Babeu and thereby demonstrate the sheriff's infidelity. Babeu had sent the pic of his erect penis to a fictional man named "Matt," unaware that he actually was texting it to his scorned lover.
The photo is mentioned, but not shown, in the investigative file. Kurt Cusanovich, a mutual friend of Orozco and Babeu's, explained to investigators that Orozco had shown Cusanovich “a picture of [Babeu's] dick” that Orozco said revealed Babeu's cheating ways.

Neither Cusanovich nor his companion, Dwayne St. Jacques, who also was interviewed as a witness by AG investigators, approved of Orozco's actions, by the way.

St. Jacques described the Orozco-Babeu affair as a “bad breakup,” with all that entails. And both Cusanovich and St. Jacques said they disapproved of Orozco's willingness to out Babeu as gay.

“Among gays,” Cusanovich told investigators, “it's kind of an unwritten rule that you don't out people.”

Neither man had direct knowledge about whether threats were made against Orozco by Babeu or his attorney. Babeu and his former counsel have denied ever making any such threats.

But the couple's recollection of the facts parted ways with Babeu in one significant area: Orozco's immigration status.

Babeu, who was interviewed at length by the AG investigators, claimed of Orozco, “I believed always that he was here in legal status.”
Considering Babeu's inflexible position on illegal immigration, his use of the issue to score face time on Fox News, and his support of Arizona's draconian immigration law, Senate Bill 1070, any willingness to look askance at a boyfriend's status would damage his viability as a Republican candidate for office.

Babeu said Orozco had a car and an Arizona driver's license, which the sheriff claimed to have seen. And since he knew Orozco had a job and supposedly was attending school somewhere, he figured his boyfriend was legitimate, as far as U.S. immigration law was concerned.

“All those criteria,” Babeu told investigators, “that would say to any normal person — never mind somebody in law enforcement — that, well, clearly this is someone who was here legally, [were] there.”

But St. Jacques recalled a conversation for investigators that Babeu and he had about Orozco's status in September 2011.

According to St. Jacques, Babeu told him: "I don't know if [Orozco's] legal or not."

St Jacques continued, telling investigators: “I said, 'I think he's on a student visa,' and Paul said, 'He's not a student anymore.'”

St. Jacques said he and his partner “didn't know what that meant.”

Orozco would house-sit for the couple when they went to San Diego. St. Jacques said Orozco told him that he was on a “temporary visa,” maybe a student visa.

Both men recalled how Orozco, though educated, worked at a menial job, which they found “sad.”

Once, Cusanovich said he suggested that Orozco get out of Phoenix's summer heat by going to San Diego. But Orozco was worried.

“He kept asking how many checkpoints,” said Cusanovich, “because when you go to San Diego, there are all those . . . border patrol checkpoints, like 4 or 5. And he was just really nervous about them.”

Orozco wondered about the northern route to San Diego instead.

Interestingly, Orozco was stopped once in 2009 by a Pinal County Sheriff's Office deputy near Babeu's then-residence.

The deputy asked what Orozco was doing in the area, and Orozco said he was visiting someone “prominent” but didn't want to identify the person.
The car was in Orozco's name, according to the PCSO's radio log for the incident. Orozco's driver's license was valid and was from Washington state, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain such licenses.

Orozco was not cited during the stop and was allowed to continue on his way. 

AG investigators interviewed Orozco, as well, and Orozco said he had shown Babeu his visa in 2006.

Frustratingly, the investigation does not say whether the AG ever determined if Orozco was in the country legally. Unless that determination was given in one or more of the redacted pages in the AG's file.

At one point in his conversation with AG investigators, Babeu commented on the oddness of his situation.

“Here's what's so ironic,” Babeu said, “when people today question law enforcement, saying that we're profiling people on race, color, national origin, that's the very thing now [they say of my situation]: `Why didn't you [profile Orozco]?'”

My answer to that would be, when you're an out-and-out demagogue who has used his law enforcement position to persecute brown people, then, yeah, folks are going to call you on your hypocrisy when you look the other way on the questionable status of your lover.

The collective problem Republicans, Democrats, and Independents of good faith now have is that Babeu has regrouped since New Times blew the lid off his dubious behavior in 2012.

And with a base in Pinal County that takes up a sizable portion of CD1, an electorate that seems obtuse to his infamy, and a wide GOP field that, save for Rogers, seems unusually passive, Babeu could slither into Congress on the force of his considerable charisma. 

Yes, I know, the Democrat O'Halleran ultimately might stop him in what's supposed to be a tossup district. But, no offense to the Ds, I'd rather not have to depend on them for a job this big.
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