Mitt Romney’s squeaky-clean presidential campaign has become embroiled in a rare scandal this week, amid reports that its Arizona campaign chairman — and the face of Romney’s hardline immigration stance — was embroiled in a gay sex scandal with an alleged illegal immigrant.In what is definitely one of the more salacious plot twists of the 2012 race, Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu abruptly resigned from the Romney campaign this weekend in the wake of allegations that he threatened to have his former boyfriend deported if news of their affair went public.
The scandal has caused a major headache for Romney, just one week before Arizona’s Republican primary. Details of the alleged affair have captivated the state’s political community, not least because they read like a lurid dime-story novel:
According to the Phoenix New Times, which broke the story, Babeu and his ex, “Jose,” a man from central Mexico, met on the dating website gay.com in 2006, and carried on a secret romance until this past fall. Allegedly, their relationship soured when “Jose” learned that Babeu was meeting other men on the gay dating/hookup site adam4adam.com, using the alias “Studboi1.” Babeu later pressured “Jose” to sign a nondisclosure agreement about their relationship or face deportation, claiming that “Jose’s” visa was expired.
Immigration rights groups are now asking the Justice Department to investigate the allegations about the tough-talking border sheriff, who rivals Arizona’s infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his hardline stance on illegal immigration.
In a press conference Saturday, Babeu acknowledged that he is gay, but denied “Jose’s” accusations. He broke ties with the Romney camp, saying that he didn’t want to the scandal to taint the presidential candidate.
Since then, however, Babeu and “Jose” have been everywhere, fighting their he-said, he-said battles in dueling cable news interviews. Babeu has also come out in support of same-sex marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, positions that are almost certain to alienate him from the Tea Party and Minute Men following he has cultivated in Arizona.
This newfound social liberalism is likely to torpedo Babeu’s blossoming political career, including a nascent bid for Arizona’s Fourth Congressional district. Romney can only hope that they don’t take down his campaign there as well.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.