Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu just announced at a press conference that he is a gay man and that he is no longer a part of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign.
"I called the Romney campaign, and I told him I'm going to step away from the campaign," Babeu told a crowd of reporters. He says the campaign told him: "We support your decision, sheriff."
Babeu was serving as the Arizona co-chair of the Mitt Romney for President campaign.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, "Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him. We support his decision," the Huffington Post reported.
Babeu called the press conference a day after New Times broke the story about allegations from the sheriff's former boyfriend that Babeu's attorney threatened him with deportation after he refused to sign an agreement promising not to disclose details of their relationship.
The sheriff and congressional candidate said his personal life was none of anyone's business, and said a couple times during the press conference that it was "almost a relief" for his orientation to be out in the open.
He denied the allegations made by the ex-boyfriend, and instead painted him as a jilted lover and former campaign volunteer who hacked into his website and other accounts.
Babeu — who became the face of Arizona border security nationally after he started stridently opposing illegal immigration — threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship, the former boyfriend and his lawyer tell New Times.
The latest of the alleged threats were made through Babeu's personal attorney, who's also running the sheriff's campaign for Congress in District 4, the ex-lover says.
He says lawyer Chris DeRose demanded he sign an agreement that he would never breathe a word about the affair. But Jose (New Times is withholding his last name because Babeu and his attorney have challenged his legal status) refused.
The 34-year-old from central Mexico charges that the sheriff's lawyer warned against mentioning the affair with Babeu. DeRose said gossip about Babeu would focus attention on Jose, attention that could result in his deportation, Jose says.
Melissa Weiss-Riner, Jose's attorney, confirms her client's account.
She says she spoke directly to the sheriff's lawyer, DeRose, about the Babeu camp's threats that Jose could be deported if he "revealed the relationship." She says DeRose falsely claimed that Jose's visa had expired.
Compiled from Phoenix New Times: