"Shadow Governor" Chuck Coughlin Spews Nonsense About New Times in Post on Sheriff Babeu; Forgets His 2010 Smear of Terry Goddard

Chuck Coughlin -- a.k.a. Governor Jan Brewer's "brain" -- defended Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu while taking lame potshots at New Times in a weekend rant on his PR company's blog.

We were among the recipients who received an e-mail version of the post from the Republican campaign strategist and former Fiesta Bowl lobbyist -- which was great, because we always appreciate a good laugh.

"I was proud of Paul Babeu today for the way he ultimately handled the powder keg issue of his sexual orientation," Coughlin wrote in his blog post, Five Things to Learn From Sheriff Babeu's Press Conference [Saturday]. "It really isn't and never should be part of the discussion."

Whoa! First of all -- issue-comprehension problem. The "powder keg" wasn't the issue of Babeu's sexual orientation, it was the allegation that he and his attorney threatened his former Mexican lover with deportation, according to the boyfriend and his lawyer.

But Coughlin's not just a point-misser -- he's a hypocrite.

This is, after all, the same guy who infamously tried to out former state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard in 2010.

Coughlin himself couldn't resist when, in October of 2010, a month before the general election, a rumor surfaced that Brewer might be too ill to take on a four-year term. Coughlin, using the blog of his ironically named company, HighGround, responded to the rumor by trying to point out that Brewer's opponent was gay.

Goddard denied he's gay -- to no accolades from Coughlin for the the AG handled the issue.

Coughlin did later put out a half-assed apology, and Brewer even joined the critics of Coughlin, saying it was "ridiculous" for him to question Goddard's sexuality.

As mentioned, the story with Babeu isn't that he's gay -- although few would deny that's a fascinating detail. Even if Babeu's jilted lover had been of the female persuasion, the accusation that the illegal-immigrant-bashing sheriff had tried to intimidate a Mexican national whom he believed didn't have a proper visa -- that would still have been front-page news.

Hey, Babeu's saying he never doubted that his then-lover was here legally and never threatened him with deportation, but we find this hard to believe: Not only does Jose say he was threatened with deportation if he revealed the affair, but so does his attorney.

Coughlin attempts to undermine the Babeu story our colleague Monica Alonzo broke by attacking New Times, saying that "no one reads the rag and its credibility has been below the curb level for years."

Given the worldwide attention garnered by New Times' story about Babeu, this phrase brought to mind a zinger by the master of the garbled aphorism, Yogi Berra: "Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore. It's too crowded."

Coughlin may not be a fan, but he knows from first-hand experience that we were right all along about former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He told us in 2009 that he was worried about Thomas and Arpaio's abuse of power and that he'd been a victim of a trumped-up campaign-finance investigation in 2005.

Most of Coughlin's PR advice is of the no-brainer variety. Don't post embarrassing pictures on the Internet, he says -- yeah, no doubt.

Nowhere in Coughlin's advice column does he urge those in the public spotlight to tell the truth.

He suggests only that "whatever you did wrong, own it."

Babeu sure isn't taking that advice altogether. He's suddenly owning being an out gay man, who slept with a Mexican, but he continues to deny the rest of it. 

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern