Specifically, Babeu claims that Jose Orozco stole his identity and hacked into the sheriff's web accounts -- accounts that Babeu had asked his longtime flame to maintain.
Indeed, A.D. Horan, an attorney representing Orozco, said his client was a campaign volunteer and an "authorized administrator who ... created and maintained websites for Sheriff Babeu with his permission and upon his request."
Horan said Orozco had the "authority while working on the campaign to access those accounts."
Orozco complied with requests to turn over control of the websites, Horan said. Even Chris DeRose, Babeu's attorney and an adviser to the sheriff's congressional campaign in District 4, doesn't dispute that Orozco immediately gave up control of the websites and social-media accounts.
Babeu and DeRose started pressing a claim that Jose had criminally violated the sheriff's accounts -- even though the dispute had been resolved, according to both parties -- after New Times reported Orozco's allegations that Babeu and DeRose had threatened him with deportation if he outed Babeu as a homosexual who had a profile on the gay hook-up website adam4adam.com.
Even though another of Orozco's attorneys, Melissa Weiss-Riner, stresses that DeRose also claimed that Orozco's visa had expired, which could make him vulnerable to removal from the country, Babeu has insisted since the revelations were made public that he is the victim, not his 34-year-old ex.
In fact, Orozco and Weiss-Riner say questions about Orozco's visa and suggestions that Orozco could be deported came up because Orozco refused to sign a document promising that he'd never disclose details of their years-long relationship.
Sources provided New Times with screen shots of the website, paulbabeu.co (not .com, but .co), which was not even Babeu's active campaign site. It appears that this was one of various inactive web domain names linked to Babeu, and it was the site where Orozco purportedly "defamed" Babeu.
New Times also obtained screenshots that appear to be of a Twitter account that, again, doesn't look like an official Babeu account, in which Orozco reportedly posted "offensive" messages about Babeu.
A close look at the pages shows that perhaps Orozco was on the verge of talking about his soured relationship with Babeu, and in doing so, would have revealed that the sheriff is gay -- a fact that Babeu clearly did not want disclosed given his congressional run in a very conservative district rife with Tea Party Republicans.
After New Times published Jose's allegations, Babeu came out as gay in a press conference last Saturday, at which he first spun that he was victimized by Orozco, not the other way around.
The following pages and text messages show why Babeu and DeRose may have been so eager to silence Orozco.
From the now-inactive Twitter account -- @paubabeaz:
About six hours later, Orozco received the following text message from Babeu:
"You can never have business after this and you will harm my and many others in the process...including yourself & your family." (11 a.m.) And, two minutes later, Babeu wrote: "And you say you have loved me? Papi...this is no good."
By that evening, sources tell New Times, the first tweets were deleted, but this one appeared:
Ethical issues on paulbabeu.co, up at 8:36 p.m. on September 4.
That website, paulbabeu.co, mirrored features of an official website, with obvious exceptions:
On September 5 at 7:42 p.m., the website appears with a small box in its top, right-hand corner that reads: "Unethical Corner of Sheriff of the Year Paul Babeu."
Beneath that box are the headlines to three actual news stories:
"Critics questioning Pinal Sheriff used public funds to attend awards conference."
"Ranking Pinal officer never cited in speeding."
"Audit finds problems with evidence handling at Pinal County Sheriff's Office."
At the bottom, a sentence reads: "Sheriff Paul Babeu on adam4adam records show".
And Babeu was on adam4adam.com.
Also on the website is a photo of Pinal County officials at an awards ceremony honoring Babeu with this sentence super-imposed: "Pinal Sheriff used public funds to attend awards conference."
DeRose sent a "cease and desist" letter to Orozco on September 6, ordering him to remove the "offensive" postings at once.
It seems that the reference to adam4adam may have been most "offensive" to the sheriff's camp.
The same day the "cease and desist" letter was sent to Orozco, he and Babeu had the following text-message exchange:
Orozco, 7:37 a.m.: The true is already out
Babeu, 7: 46 a.m.: You and Website (redacted) will be sued...you have crossed the line. Better get an attorney. Your brother will also be contacted.
Orozo, 7:57 a.m.: Don't threat me. Thats illegal. I'm just speaking true.
In his September 6 letter, DeRose claims that Orozco engaged in defamation -- but, from what we have seen, it appears that everything he posted was factual. Unflattering, but factual.
As Weiss-Riner noted in her September 30 response letter to DeRose: "Truth in an absolute defense to any of these claims."
Perhaps there are other bits of evidence that DeRose and Babeu possess that will support their allegations of identity theft or hacking. If there are, why haven't they come forward with them?
DeRose also wrote in his September 6 letter that Orozco engaged in "breach of contract" -- but, since when do campaign volunteers sign contracts? Again, they should produce the contract.
In a February 17 e-mail to New Times, DeRose wrote that "on September 6, 2011, Jose Orozco, a former volunteer for the Sheriff, hacked the campaign website, Twitter, and online financial transaction system. Mr. Orozco changed the passwords and content of these sites."
We have to ask, as Horan pointed out, if Orozco was managing the campaign websites, didn't he already have the passwords? How can he "hack" into accounts that he'd been managing?
In a text message on September 6 to Babeu, Orozco wrote: "Twitter account has the same old password."
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And in another, earlier text message from Babeu to Orozco, Babeu thanks Orozco for updating something or other on the website.
DeRose continues in his e-mail to New Times that when all this came to his attention, he wrote Orozco a letter and pointed out which law he believed Babeu's ex-boyfriend had violated. Orozco "promptly complied, returning control of these items."
Investigations have been launched into Orozco's allegations against Babeu that, at the same time, will examine the sheriff's claims against Orozco.