Two of Paul Babeu's Sisters Endorse Wendy Rogers in CD1's GOP Primary

Two of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's siblings believe their brother is unfit to be a U.S. Congressman and have endorsed one of his rivals for the GOP primary in Arizona's First Congressional District, which will be decided August 30.

In separate statements released recently by Republican hopeful Wendy Rogers, Lucy Babeu and Veronica Keating, endorsed Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, over their brother in the GOP battle for CD1.

A longtime critic of her brother, Lucy, 54,was quoted in a July 7 press release from the Rogers camp as stating that the sheriff has not lived up to the principles of "God, country, and family," adding, "The decisions my brother Paul has made throughout his life are not the makings of someone who represents the values of our congressional district, our state, or our country."

The press release bore the cheeky title, "Babeu endorses Rogers in Arizona's CD1."

A few days later, Keating joined the fray. The Rogers campaign quotes Keating, who at age 49 is two years older than Paul, as stating the following:

"I admire my sister Lucy for coming forward to speak out against our brother — to finally stand up to him. Paul thinks only of himself and his political career at the expense of others. He does not care about the people whom elected officials are called to serve. As his siblings, Lucy and I know firsthand how unfit he is to serve. The people of Arizona must know, too."

Both sisters praised Rogers as the right choice for CD1, a sprawling district that encompasses most of northern and northeastern Arizona and sweeps far enough south to include a tiny portion of Pima County.

Lucy called Rogers "a person of immense character, who has served our country honorably," while Keating was quoted as saying she was "very proud" to join her sister in endorsing Rogers.

Babeu spokesman Barrett Marson, who also fronts for the pro-pot initiative expected to be on the ballot in November, told the Casa Grande Dispatch that Rogers' press release announcing Lucy Babeu's endorsement smacks of "desperation," and she referred to Lucy as "the sheriff’s troubled sister." New Times sought a response from Marson on Keating's endorsement but so far has received no reply.

Reached by phone, Keating told New Times that a big factor in her decision to endorse Rogers was the candidate's willingness to call out her brother publicly on his record as headmaster and executive director of the DeSisto School for troubled teens from 1999 to 2001.

The Massachusetts boarding school closed in 2004 after a state investigation revealed a host of abusive practices, including strip searches, forced labor, and discipline that included a practice called "cornering," in which students were forced to sit in a corner for up to months at a time.

Babeu has attempted to distance himself from the school's abuses in the past, but in January, ABC 15 aired a Babeu family video dating to 1999, in which Babeu describes in detail DeSisto's abusive practices, arguing that they were necessary for the students' reform.

"[The students] need to feel hopeless,” Babeu says in the footage, which ABC 15 obtained from Lucy. “[They need to feel] depression and complete failure. ... They have to bottom out and then be able to work through it."

Citing the video's airing, Rogers blasted Babeu at a candidates' forum in February over his insouciance toward DeSisto's students.

"I'm a mother," Rogers says in video of the forum obtained by New Times. "That could have been my child at that school. I think we need to know, if we send someone to Congress, what the accountability and the integrity issues are here."

Keating said she was thrilled by Rogers' willingness to criticize her brother, whom she regards as a charlatan.

"Oh, yeah, I saw it," Keating told New Times of Rogers' attack on Babeu. "And I loved it."

Keating last spoke with New Times earlier this year, when the Pinal County resident discussed her brother's current live-in relationship with Israel Chabarria, a young man 25 years his junior whom Babeu apparently began dating about a year or so after Chabarria graduated from high school.

Then as now, Keating says the Babeu camp's attacks on her sister as being mentally ill are a way of deflecting Lucy's allegations.

"They're just afraid of Lucy because she knows too much," Keating told New Times in that interview. "That's why they say she's crazy."

"As his siblings, Lucy and I know firsthand how unfit he is to serve. The people of Arizona must know, too." — Veronica Keating, one of Paul Babeu's sisters

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In conversations with New Times, Lucy admitted that she suffers from seizures, which she claims result from physical abuse she endured in her parents' household. But that doesn't mean her claims are not accurate, she insists. She points to the video she gave ABC 15 as bolstering her credibility.

"I've paid the price for telling the truth about Paul," she told New Times. "Calling me names is not going to shut me up."

Lucy has long been a thorn in her brother's side. In 2012, she alleged that the sheriff had an inappropriate relationship with a DeSisto student, saying she caught the two together at Paul's house in North Adams, Massachusetts, sometime in 2001.

Babeu denied his sister's accusation and provided an undated, un-notarized statement to the media from the former DeSisto student in question, Joshua Geyer, stating that no improper relationship had taken place.

Former New Times reporter Monica Alonzo examined those allegations in 2012, in addition to her bombshell story revealing that the sheriff and his lawyer allegedly had threatened Babeu's ex-boyfriend, a Mexican national, with deportation if the boyfriend did not keep mum about their affair and Sheriff Babeu's then-closeted sexuality.

Babeu and his attorney both deny that they every threatened Babeu's ex.

The scandal wrecked Babeu's congressional ambitions at the time, forcing him to retreat from the GOP primary in the Fourth Congressional District and run for re-election as Pinal County sheriff instead. Babeu was successful in that re-election effort, and has attempted to put the matter behind him, with mixed results. 

For instance, many still recall Babeu's half-nude selfies that New Times made public at that time, one that appeared on Babeu's profile on the X-rated gay pickup site Adam4Adam.com, the other a smiling pic of Babeu in his underwear that he sent a potential hookup.

As the primary draws closer to the start of early voting by mail on August 3, it's anticipated that these photos and other embarrassing details of the scandal will be used against Babeu by an independent expenditure or "dark money" group, if not directly by one of the other campaigns.

Babeu, Keating, and Lucy are part of a brood of 11 children, the offspring of North Adams natives Ray and Helen Babeu, who are now deceased. Not all of the siblings share Lucy's and Veronica's hostility toward their sheriff brother.

According to Babeu's most recent campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission, five Babeu siblings have contributed to his congressional campaign, including younger brother Shaun, a justice of the peace in Pinal County and a close confidant of the sheriff.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons