Arizona sheriff and congressional GOP candidate Paul Babeu denied charges yesterday that he threatened an ex-lover with deportation, claiming he was actually being attacked for being gay, reports the Phoenix New Times. Babeu claims that the New Times and his ex-lover only made up the charge to make his sexual orientation a campaign issue. "All of the allegations are false except one: I am gay," Babeu said. Of the relationship, texts between the two men, and racy photos of himself posted on gay websites, Babeu said only, "What I do in my personal life and private life is my business."
Nonetheless, Babeu is stepping down as Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, saying he did so to fight the allegations against him. But he vowed to continue his run for the 4th Congressional District. "We're not cutting and running. That's not who I am," he said. Babeu came to national prominence for his strong anti-illegal immigrant positions; however, political observers say the revelation that he had a gay relationship with an illegal Mexican immigrant could seriously threaten his standing with Arizona Republicans.