Claims to fame: Hard-right, anti-choice Republican 2012 candidate for U.S. Congress (for now); Sheriff, Pinal County, Arizona (2008 – ); National Sheriffs’ Association “Sheriff of the Year,” 2011; Ronald Reagan-worshipping, John McCain-loving, Sarah Palin fanboy; anti-immigration “border hawk“; former Mitt Romney campaign chair; former police officer, Chandler, Arizona; former commissioner, Berkshire County, Massachusetts; former city councilmember, North Adams, Massachusetts; former North Adams police officer; two-time failed North Adams mayoral candidate; former headmaster & executive director, DeSisto School, Massachusetts (1999-2001); dragged-out-of-the-closet queen who gives money to anti-gay Republicans; nominee for Biggest Right-Wing Hypocrite of 2012
Moral apex: Most folks would say: “Being dragged forcibly out of the closet after being accused of threatening his ex-boyfriend with deportation.” We’ll get to that eventually (or you can skip ahead to that part of the story) — but, frankly, we’re far more disturbed by his involvement with the DeSisto School.
Huh? Why? Babeu’s campaign website states: “Sheriff Babeu is originally from Massachusetts, where he served as Headmaster & Executive Director of DeSisto Private Boarding School.” We’d never heard of the place before, so we looked it up. From Wikipedia:
The DeSisto School was a pair of therapeutic boarding schools founded by Michael DeSisto, DeSisto at Stockbridge School in Massachusetts (operated from 1978 to 2004) and the DeSisto at Howey School in Florida (operated from 1980 to 1988). …
Wait — what’s a “therapeutic boarding school”? Back to Wikipedia again:
A therapeutic boarding school (TBS), alternatively known as an emotional growth boarding school, is a boarding school based on the therapeutic community model that offers an educational program together with specialized structure and supervision for students with emotional and behavioral problems, substance abuse problems, or learning difficulties.
In contrast with residential treatment programs, which are more clinically focused and primarily provide Behaviour therapy and treatment for adolescents with serious issues, the focus of a TBS is toward emotional and academic recovery involving structure and supervision for physical, emotional, behavioral, family, social, intellectual and academic development. Therapeutic and educational approaches vary greatly; with the approaches best described as a “tapestry” of interventions. …
Skip all the psychobabble. What is it, in English? Basically a “tough-love” school for so-called “troubled teens.”
You mean like a teen boot camp? Well, we can’t say all of these schools are the same, but here’s what Maia Szalavitz had to say about such schools in Mother Jones a few years ago, in the article, “The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry” (which includes a handy chart for sorting out the evolution [for lack of a better word] for some of these schools):
The idea that punishment can be therapeutic is not unique to the Rotenberg Center. In fact, this notion is widespread among the hundreds of “emotional growth boarding schools,” wilderness camps, and “tough love” antidrug programs that make up the billion-dollar teen residential treatment industry.
This harsh approach to helping troubled teens has a long and disturbing history. No fewer than 50 programs (though not the Rotenberg Center) can trace their treatment philosophy, directly or indirectly, to an antidrug cult called Synanon. …
Whoa! Synanon?! Isn’t that that drug-recovery program that got so much bad press in the 1970s? Yes, it is. Now, stop interrupting for a moment, and keep reading:
Founded in 1958, Synanon sold itself as a cure for hardcore heroin addicts who could help each other by “breaking” new initiates with isolation, humiliation, hard labor, and sleep deprivation.
Today, troubled-teen programs use Synanon-like tactics, advertising themselves to parents as solutions for everything from poor study habits to substance misuse. However, there is little evidence that harsh behavior-modification techniques can solve these problems. …
In 1971, the federal government gave a grant to a Florida organization called The Seed, which applied Synanon’s methods to teenagers, even those only suspected of trying drugs. In 1974, Congress opened an investigation into such behavior-modification programs, finding that The Seed had used methods “similar to the highly refined brainwashing techniques employed by the North Koreans.”
The bad publicity led some supporters of The Seed to create a copycat organization under a different name. Straight Inc. was cofounded by Mel Sembler, a Bush family friend who would become the gop’s 2000 finance chair and who heads Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s legal defense fund. By the mid-’80s, Straight was operating in seven states. First Lady Nancy Reagan declared it her favorite antidrug program. As with The Seed, abuse was omnipresent — including beatings and kidnapping of adult participants. Facing seven-figure legal judgments, it closed in 1993. …
Sorry, but I have to interrupt again. These schools are GOP-backed? Sounds like some of them are, yes. You should read the rest of the Mother Jones article (and see the chart); the piece also mentions Escuela Caribe, the “evangelical Christian reform school” / “therapeutic Christian boarding school” in the Dominican Republic that is the subject of the forthcoming documentary, Kidnapped for Christ.
Okay, so what about the “therapeutic boarding school” Babeu worked for? Let’s go back to the Wikipedia article:
The DeSisto at Stockbridge School was a private therapeutic boarding school for high school students in Stockbridge, Mass. Founded on August 18, 1978 by Michael DeSisto, it closed in 2004, amid allegations by state authorities that the school endangered the health and safety of its students.
Michael DeSisto, after being dismissed as director of the Lake Grove School on Long Island, N.Y. …
Dismissed for what? Let’s see… Following the Wikipedia link to Michael DeSisto…
DeSisto was a teacher, unlicensed therapist, and director for eleven years at The Lake Grove School on Long Island, New York. DeSisto had significant disagreements with the administrators of Lake Grove regarding their educational approach and was fired. In 1978 he secured funding mostly in the form of advance tuition payments, and direct donations, from the parents of former students of The Lake Grove School, and set out to found his own school. He founded the DeSisto at Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for at risk teens in 1978.
Although DeSisto’s official title was executive director, he was often referred to as headmaster in the press and by others, even though he never held the position or referred to himself as such. The position of headmaster never existed at the DeSisto Schools. …
But Paul Babeu says he was “headmaster”…! Nice catch. Wikipedia could be 100% wrong with the sentence, “The position of headmaster never existed at the DeSisto Schools.” We don’t know. But if it’s correct, we think somebody ought to ask Paul Babeu if he shouldn’t delete the reference on his campaign website to being the “headmaster.”
DeSisto originally envisioned a string of schools nationally and internationally based on Gestalt psychological principles, and his own therapeutic model. DeSisto stated that the Stockbridge campus would be his “flagship”. In 1980 DeSisto opened a second campus in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. …
The DeSisto at Howey School closed in 1988. DeSisto stated that the reason was declining enrollment, and legal problems with the local government. The DeSisto at Stockbridge School closed permanently in June 2004, amid commonwealth allegations that it did not create a safe environment for its students.
DeSisto at Stockbridge would be the school where Babeu was headmaster? It would have to be.
In 1988 The Orlando Sentinel reported that the DeSisto School’s claim of accreditation by the National Association of Independent Schools was false. Michael DeSisto responded that, “low-level staff members were responsible”. Mike DeSisto’s resume also stated he had been a faculty member at Elmira College and Adelphi University, when he had not ever been a faculty member at either institution. DeSisto also claimed he had worked as a consultant for the Free University of New York at Stony Brook. According to Jeremy Weis, an official with the New York Bureau of Academic Information and Reports, the state agency with which all universities must register “I’ve never heard of this university”. Elmira payroll supervisor Mary Fetyko said, “DeSisto never worked there.” At Adelphi, administrator Margaret Elaine Wittman said, “there are no records of DeSisto having been a faculty member, the man is completely foreign to us, the fact that he would say this on his vita is incredible.”
In November 1988, The Orlando Sentinel ran a three-part exposé about Michael DeSisto, titled Desisto(sic) Went Far On Fake Credentials, “Who is Michael DeSisto? For years, Howey’s most controversial resident has claimed a lot of impressive academic and professional credentials, many of which are false. The real story is one of firings from teaching posts and inflated representations of his professional stature. Yet those credentials are a significant aspect of the almost overwhelmingly positive publicity he has received — on the Today show, in Life, Time and People magazines, and in numerous newspaper articles — and the subsequent financial success he has achieved with his private preparatory schools.” In response to complaints made by Michael DeSisto that the articles “presented an unfair picture of him and his schools”. On October 7, 1990, the Orlando Sentinel published a follow-up article titled, New Information On The Desisto(sic) Schools. It is the Sentinel’s policy to review all such complaints “in a spirit of fairness”. The Sentinel found that, “the presentation of one story in the three-day series may have led to the unintentionally misleading conclusion that his entire career was built on false credentials.” About a year after the publication of this article in the Sentinel with DeSisto’s rebuttal about his credentials, it was discovered that Michael DeSisto did not have a Master’s degree as he had long claimed.
In 1991, DeSisto authored his only book: Decoding Your Teenager (How to understand each other during the turbulent years). After its publication, some journalists published articles calling into question whether DeSisto actually held a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, as he claimed, or did not. In fact the University of Massachusetts doesn’t even offer a master’s degree in psychology, and only has a doctorate program. DeSisto later admitted to not possessing the Master’s degree, and said the error was due to a “low-level assistant”, who had mistakenly placed it on his resume.
[In] 1991 Michael DeSisto was selected to receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award from his alma mater, Stonehill College. The reasons given were,”in recognition of his dedication to helping troubled youth and their families. He was an outstanding educator, a compassionate counselor, a popular author, a skilled communicator and founder of the DeSisto School, a therapeutic-educational community for troubled teenagers.”
In 1999, DeSisto produced an off-off-Broadway musical Inappropriate with Lonnie McNeil and Michael Sottile based on the journals and life experiences of the student performers. On December 6, 2004 the composer of Inappropriate, Michael Sottile, filed a lawsuit in Berkshire Superior Court against the DeSisto School seeking the recovery of almost $350,000 in damages that an arbitrator ordered the school to pay him after a default judgment six months previously found he had not been paid for his services.
Roger Kahn’s 2006 memoir, Into My Own, portrays DeSisto as an egocentric figure, stained by streaks of cruelty. A number of former DeSisto students have praised that portrait. …
DeSisto’s father was a building contractor who died when DeSisto was 11 years old. DeSisto has a brother Joseph, and a sister Jacqueline who is deceased. DeSisto has no nieces or nephews. In 1981 DeSisto married Margie Charles Bullock in a lavish ceremony on the Stockbridge campus lasting three days that included two live elephants, three hot air balloons, and fireworks. … They had no children.
The guy who founded “troubled teen” schools didn’t even have any children of his own? That’s what it says.
So, back to the DeSisto Schools…
… Michael DeSisto, after being dismissed as director of the Lake Grove School on Long Island, N.Y., raised $180,000 in advance tuition fees and donations from the parents of students who supported his vision, and encouraged him to open a new school “where he could put his philosophy into practice”. In 1978, Mike DeSisto was able to get approximately one-third of all the Lake Grove student body, and faculty to leave with him after he was fired by Lake Grove’s management. These original staff and students served as the nucleus of the new DeSisto at Stockbridge School. The school was then established on the 300-acre former campus of the old defunct Stockbridge School (a.k.a. The Hanna Estate and Bonnie Brier Farm), in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts, near Tanglewood Music Center, and the Stockbridge Bowl. The DeSisto school’s program placed heavy emphasis on discipline, structure, and psychological therapy.
On April 14, 1980 DeSisto opened a second campus in Howey-in-the-Hills Florida named the DeSisto at Howey School. Once again DeSisto, like in the Lake Grove experience a couple of years earlier, moved about one-third of the student body and staff down to Howey. This would have important ramifications down the road. The DeSisto School was losing its most experienced staff members, and those few who remained were split between Howey and Stockbridge. New faculty hires had to sign a two-year contract. In practice many stayed far less than that. Many “Grovers” had five or more years of experience. They liked the DeSisto School, and had a deep understanding how the school’s complicated system worked. This is in stark contrast to a typical new hire who found out about the job from the classifieds of The New York Times. DeSisto originally envisioned a string of schools nationally and internationally based on the principles of Gestalt Psychology, and his own therapeutic model. … DeSisto was once in negotiations with the New York City school system to open a school in the Bronx. The DeSisto School would develop a reputation as the place that celebrities, the rich, and political elites could send their children who had difficulty living at home, and functioning in conventional secondary school environments. However, about 20% of the students were not from wealthy families, and received funding from their local school districts as special needs students, or endured financial hardship to send their children to the school. …
In 1987 DeSisto opened a college on the Howey campus, named DeSisto College. The experiment was short-lived though when the local government objected. The DeSisto School, and some of its students, sued and appealed in federal court unsuccessfully for the college to continue its operations.
While never formerly incorporated as school campuses, DeSisto ran significant school programs out of his own personal properties in Italy, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
The annual tuition for The DeSisto School in 1978 was $10,000 for room and board excluding costs of therapy and other miscellaneous fees, and expenses. The DeSisto School was a 365-day-a-year program. Some students were offered trips during the summer months both domestically and to Europe, as well as an academic summer school, a performing arts program, or manual work program on campus. At its peak in the late 80′s the DeSisto School had a combined enrollment of approximately 300 students on the Stockbridge and Howey campuses. By 2004 tuition had ballooned to $71,000, and enrollment had dropped to below 30 students before the school’s closure.
Quite early on, the school had problems with the commonwealth Department of Education which withdrew its accreditation after questions arose about the school’s treatment of “special needs” students. The school sued in 1983, and won back its accreditation.
In 1986, the DeSisto School received national media attention with the case of Heather Burdick, from Old Bridge, New Jersey, Burdick was sent to the Stockbridge campus, and ran away from the school after only a few weeks. She told people from her hometown a mixture of stories about her experiences at the school, some were true, but some were untrue. A group of parents from Burdick’s hometown tied yellow ribbons around trees, and started a “Free Heather” movement. They sought to sue The DeSisto School for illegally detaining Heather, but the action failed. Heather Burdick’s parents then sued their neighbors for invasion of privacy, libel, and slander. The DeSisto School subsequently successfully counter-sued, and after recovering $550,000 in legal expenses was awarded $41,000 for damages. The group of parents then attempted to sue Heather for misrepresenting her circumstances. In 1990 Burdick’s parents were awarded $259,000 in damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. …
The DeSisto at Howey School was not without its problems, either. A group of students under the aegis of the DeSisto School sued Howey-in-the-Hills over zoning issues related to the incipient DeSisto College. The town of Howey-in-the-Hills was awarded $203,279.27 in attorney fees and $17,194.12 in costs. The case of DeSisto College, Inc. v. Town of Howey-in-the-Hills, 718 F.Supp. 906 (M.D.Fla. 1989), and its appeals, are often cited and used as precedent where the plaintiff’s claim is frivolous because it has no basis in law, the plaintiff rejects any reasonable offer to settle, the trial court dismisses the case without trial, and the plaintiff does not offer any novel legal theories. In 1993, after years of pursuing the defunct DeSisto at Howey School, the town Council of Howey-in-the-Hills agreed to accept a cash and property settlement worth about $80,000, much less than the total judgment amount of approximately $250,000.
One of the more controversial practices endorsed by Mr. DeSisto and the school was the use of regional “parent councils” that parents of students were required to attend. Missing one of these meetings resulted in that particular parent being forbidden to visit their child for a specific period of time. Another controversial rule forbade parents from contacting their child, or letting the child back into their parents’ house if the child had run away from the school. On 07/06/1996 The Boston Globe ran an article titled, “Urged to Rebuff Son, Parents Say He Was Raped While on the Run”, the father of a former student said his son was raped and attacked on the road during Hurricane Andrew, after following the school’s “street therapy” policy. Author Roger Kahn reports in his memoir Into My Own (p. 261) that the school’s tough love policy, “led to at least one fatality, when a boy put off campus mid-winter, froze to death on an icy Berkshire Hill”.
On November 15, 1988, The Boston Globe reported that Michael DeSisto, and The DeSisto School had been sued 23 times for breach of contract and fraud. …
In 1993, Alfonso Saiz, a DeSisto dorm parent, was sentenced to four to five years in state prison for sexually molesting six DeSisto students. A 1996 DSS investigation found three cases of abuse and neglect of nine students.
[On] 01/29/1999 two workers at The DeSisto at Stockbridge school were arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court on a single count each for abuse or neglect of a disabled person resulting in bodily injury. These charges arose after the staff members allegedly did not make sure a patient taking the drug Lithium remained properly hydrated. This resulted in a Lithium overdose and the student’s hospitalization. Investigation resulted in the charges being dropped for these two staff members, and the blame affixed to higher ranking staff, and licensed medical personnel.
On November 15, 1988, the Orlando Sentinel ran an article titled Reports Raise Questions About Desisto(sic) Drug Policy. The article charges that, “critics say drugs have been handed out in an almost capricious manner”. The school responded that, “that all drugs used are prescribed and carefully monitored and that no problems have surfaced”. Nevertheless, as early as, March 1981 the Massachusetts Office for Children cited school staff members in Stockbridge for permitting untrained dormitory parents to distribute prescription drugs. …
The Cult Awareness Network, Inc. placed the DeSisto School on its list of cults it kept records on. …
The DeSisto at Howey School closed in 1988, due to declining enrollment, and legal problems with the local government. In the early 90′s the largest dormitory on the Stockbridge campus was condemned. The school had neither the funds to repair nor demolish the structure, and it was left derelict, becoming a conspicuous eyesore on the bucolic campus, and an ever visible symbol of the school’s slow decline. This left the Stockbridge campus that once had a capacity of approximately 150 students reduced to a mere 60. Also during this time period, over a decade of bad press, lawsuits, rising tuition, unfavorable Internet content, and word-of-mouth had taken its toll. Although the school had always had its adherents and detractors, overall the school had developed an inescapable notorious reputation. The demand for the school’s services was greatly diminished compared to its heyday. This trend of reduced enrollment numbers continued until the school’s closure in 2004 when it had only 25 students remaining.
Michael DeSisto died on 1 November 2003. Like many other small organizations and schools founded by and led by a charismatic leader, the DeSisto School did not survive long after its leader’s death. Less than a year after Michael DeSisto’s death, the school had closed.
Following a long legal fight with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over licensing, allegations of child abuse, a Commonwealth-imposed enrollment freeze, and accusations of failing to create a safe environment for its students, the DeSisto at Stockbridge School chose to voluntarily close in June 2004.
A month previously, officials from the state Office of Child Care Services ordered DeSisto administrators to suspend their admissions process. In a letter, commonwealth officials charged the school had “an environment that endangers the life, health, and safety of children enrolled.“
Frank McNear, DeSisto’s executive director, told the Boston Globe at the time, that the school could not run properly without its customary admissions process. “They did us grave financial damage when they closed our admissions,” McNear said. “We can no longer fight this. They’ve been saying they want to close us, and they succeeded.”
The DeSisto at Stockbridge School was renamed The Cold Spring Academy, and opened a campus in Sarasota, Florida. The Cold Spring Academy permanently closed in 2005.
In 2004, Bridges4Kids noted…
…nine incidents at the DeSisto School, a $66,000-a-year facility for teens with behavioral, drug, and mental health problems. But state concerns reached new heights recently when a staffer waited more than 90 minutes to take a student to the hospital after she purposely cut herself and swallowed two razor blades.
The state Office of Child Care Services sent a letter to DeSisto administrators Feb. 11 describing what it called “serious risks” to students’ safety. The razor blade incident — in which school staff failed to tell emergency room doctors or nurses that she had swallowed the blades — was just one example, according to the letter.
Other concerns included: improper administration of medication, such as double dosing of lithium, missing medications because of staff errors, and delay in insulin administration, the letter said. …
The nine probes since the school was licensed last year have targeted issues ranging from staff training to inappropriate use of restraints, once resulting in the fracture of a student’s hand, said state Office of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Donna Rheaume. …
The school has been criticized for disciplinary practices such as making students stand silently in front of a wall until they admit to breaking a rule, a punishment known as “cornering,” as well as for sending students to “the farm” — a detention center where students were forced to do manual labor. …
Nineteen-year-old Ronnie Dicker … agrees the school has changed a lot since McNear took over. But he also recalls his early months in 2000 when he was forced to sleep with 13 other students in what he said was a two-person dorm room. During Desisto’s tenure, Dicker said, he was “cornered” for days at a time, although he said he was given breaks to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom.
So, where’s Paul Babeu in all of this? Well, it turns out we weren’t the first to notice the DeSisto connection, or wonder about it. After reading the Wikipedia articles, we started doing some digging, and found that the Paul Babeu story just gets deeper and deeper (and weirder and weirder). Let’s start here:
[Part of Babeu's] story that we touched only lightly was his leadership role at the DeSisto School, a defunct alternative boarding school in Stockbridge, Mass. The school has long been touched by controversy — so much so that when we asked Babeu about what drew him to the school, he reflexively began discussing the school’s problems, even though he thought the school was “wonderful.”
Suffice it to say that the school was unconventional and expensive. Writer Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer, wrote in his memoir about sending his troubled son to DeSisto. Here’s what Kahn said about founder Michael DeSisto, whom Babeu considered a friend and political ally:
“In time, considering DeSisto as a school director and unlicenced therapist, I saw him in many guises: actor, manipulator, cultist, publicity hound, necromancer, mercenary, entrepreneur, and, when it suited what he thought was a larger purpose, liar.”
The key connection I saw with Babeu is that during the sheriff’s time as headmaster or executive director of the school, 1998-2001, the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services demanded that the school submit to licensure, arguing that because more than 30 percent of the students are special needs student, it was required.
The school fought the office’s demand for years, starting in 2000, when Babeu was a leader there (not sure if he was headmaster or executive director at that moment). Eventually the school relented, and soon the state forced them out of business, though Michael DeSisto’s death also had something to do with the school’s demise.
— Tim Steller
“Sr. Reporter: Babeu’s near foreclosures, and other border-sheriff notes”
Arizona Daily Star
May 23, 2010
The [Babeu] family’s life was made harder by encountering Father Richard Lavigne, a Catholic priest who rotated around the Springfield, Mass., diocese for years in the 1970s and ’80s, abusing children as he moved. One of the victims was Paul’s brother Fran. Another was Paul himself.
In 1986, Paul Babeu, with the help of a Catholic nun and priest, told the diocese Lavigne had abused him. …
Eventually, in 2002, Babeu sued the diocese of Burlington, Vt., where he was abused by another priest on a trip with Lavigne, and the Springfield diocese. He received settlements from both. …
[T]he experience inspired him to try to help troubled people, he said. In 1998, he accepted an offer from fellow Berkshire County Republican Michael DeSisto to lead the private boarding school DeSisto had founded in Stockbridge.
The DeSisto School’s reputation was mixed. The school used controversial therapeutic methods and had been sued for alleged abuse by staff members, some of whom were convicted of crimes.
While Babeu worked there, the school fought efforts by a state agency to force the school to submit to licensure. Babeu acknowledges the issues but said he loved the school and that most students succeeded.
— Tim Steller and Brady McCombs
“Babeu is new face of Arizona sheriffs: Mass. transplant to Pinal molds himself into border-issue hawk”
Arizona Daily Star
May 23, 2010
So, did something happen at the school to make Babeu flee to Arizona? There are rumors, but our answer is no, not as far as we can tell. Actually, what appears to be the real reason is just as interesting — in a nutshell, he was too conservative for the conservatives:
When Paul first ran for mayor [of North Adams] … the Republican establishment split at the last minute on endorsing Paul, NOT because he was gay, but because he was too conservative. Then state senator and later twin-bearing Governor Jane Swift, also a Republican from North Adams, backed Barrett. She says now that it was loyalty to John Barrett for endorsing her. Contemporary accounts say she crossed party lines because Paul was a fire-breathing pro-life candidate and Swift was one of the few pro-choice Republicans left. …
The layer that doesn’t get covered much in most Babeu accounts is that when the political pressure was at its most severe, that was the time when Paul chose to announce that he had been assaulted as a youngster by a priest here in town. At the time, people said that it seemed that he was blaming his political problems on past abuse and Paul was characterized as cracking emotionally. Accounts of people’s feelings on the episode are really complex, muddy and still a little raw. Few of them are charitable to Paul, although time has allowed him to be recognized as a hometown boy who “made good” out west. However, abuse episode really seemed to put a nail in his political options here at home. He tried being headmaster at a very conservative Catholic school, but that obviously was not his calling. That was when he left for Arizona.
It wasn’t the anti-gay forces of the GOP that drove Paul away, it was the fact that Berkshire County was, and continues to become more liberal while the GOP of Paul Babeu becomes more and more extreme. Combined with Paul’s personal challenges of the time, or more precisely, people’s opinions of his handling of them, he was never going to win office around here. Paul never really came out of the closet while here, but the whispers only mattered to a few. Most who knew him well say that they knew he was gay and it affected nothing in his professional life. I’ve heard a few Santorum-esque cretins suggest that it was gay sex with the priest that “turned” Paul gay. Thankfully most residents ignore those twits. It is Massachusetts after all. …
— TPM Reader “GR”
Talking Points Memo, February 19, 2012
Okay, so what about the gay-boyfriend story? Glad you asked. Here’s the scoop from the Phoenix New Times that everybody’s been buzzing about, “Paul Babeu’s Mexican Ex-Lover Says Sheriff’s Attorney Threatened Him With Deportation”:
Pinal County Sheriff Paul 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.
So Babeu is not only a hyper-hypocritical, gay-basher-enabling closet ‘mo, but a raging anti-immigration nut who threatened to deport his Mexican ex-boyfriend?! That’s the story. Which, of course, you should read about in depth from the New Times at the link above, and in this piece: “Paul Babeu, Pinal County Sheriff, Hosts Press Conference to Address New Times Story. Admits He’s Gay and Says He Quit the Mitt Romney Campaign”.
Among the highlights:
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 characterized the business dispute as ending after his attorney, Chris DeRose, demanded from Jose all the passwords to the accounts they say were hacked. However, letters provided to New Times detail continued exchanges between DeRose and Melissa Weiss-Riner.
If the matters were settled, and there were no further attempts to persuade Jose into silence, then why would DeRose continue contacting Weiss-Riner?
Weiss-Riner, who received the phone calls directly from DeRose, stands by her clients’ [sic] allegations. …
Okay, so at least Babeu isn’t denying that he’s gay. Has he redeemed himself? Heavens, no! He was forced out, my friend — and, based on his documented support of raging anti-gay bigotry, we can only conclude that he is one of those self-loathing homosexuals (i.e., not out-and-proud gay, but homosexual by nature, and not happy about it) who cannot be redeemed until, and unless, he somehow compensates for his past enabling of anti-gay bigotry.
What do you mean? We mean this load of baloney…
Days after being outed by a former boyfriend, conservative Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu threw his support behind gay marriage on Monday during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“This is where our government needs to get the heck out of the way,” Babeu said. “You can’t legislate love.” …
He also told Blitzer he believes gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military and that he would be willing to join the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay conservatives.
— “Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu Says He Supports Gay Marriage”
Talking Points Memo, February 19, 2012
… which is a load of baloney because of his support of fellow Republicans who would deny not only him but every other gay American his or her Constitution- (or, if you prefer, God-) given equal rights. To wit: Mike Petrelis — who sagely opines: “The accountability tactic of outing was invented because of men like Babeu” — dug up Babeu’s political donations (via Newsmeat) before we did:
Babeu gave $1,250 in 2008 to Arizona GOP candidate David Schweikert’s failed bid for a U.S. House seat. During the campaign, the candidate made his anti gay marriage views clear: “Traditional marriage is the basis for a functional society.” Schweikert ran again in 2010 and this time won the race. If there’s anything out there showing a pro-gay bone in Schweikert’s body, I couldn’t locate it.
The gay sheriff also donated $250 in 2007 to Arizona state senator Tim Bee, who ran against Gabrielle Giffords and lost that Congressional race. What sort of anti gay politician is Bee? An answer from his Wikipedia entry:
In 2008, Bee sponsored a measure to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in Arizona. Arizona voters voted against a similar measure in 2006 and the proposed initiative was the source of considerable controversy, resulting in a dramatic last minute clash between legislators at the close of the 2008 session. Ultimately, as the President of the Senate, Bee cast the decisive vote in favor of putting the amendment on the Arizona ballot in 2008. The amendment passed by a 56-44% margin.
— Michael Petrelis
“Outed Gay GOP AZ Sheriff Gave to Homo-Hating Pols: FEC File”
February 19, 2012
But, wait! There’s even more! Like the fact that Babeu really doesn’t know where he stands on marriage equality. Watch this raw footage of his press conference, and see if he doesn’t 1) completely contradict himself (i.e., he says marriage is a “religious issue” and a “states’ rights” issue — code for “separate but equal”), and 2) dodge the question completely:
In fact, watching that a second time, he seems to be backtracking on the question that he’s even gay!
— “Et tu, Jim Kolbe? Paul Babeu’s texts involving former Tucson Congressmember”
Tucson Citizen, February 20, 2012
Wow. What a mixed-up hypocrite! Yes — yes, he is.
This story is only just beginning, isn’t it? Yes — yes, it is. Meanwhile, here are some…
Random interesting facts:
• Babeu is reported to have “followed” his parents, Raymond and Helen Babeu, from Massachusetts to Arizona.
• Paul Babeu is one of eleven children.
• One younger brother, Shaun Babeu, is Justice of the Peace in Pinal County, Arizona — and was warned by by the state supreme court that he’d better bypass the vast majority of criminal cases that land on his desk since he “has a conflict of interest in hearing cases from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office” — Paul Babeu’s office, that is — “because his ‘impartiality may be questioned.’”
• Back in Massachusetts, Babeu’s father, Raymond Babeu, was a failed political wannabe and anti-pornography crusader who “left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical minister,” per the Arizona Daily Star.
• According to one observer: “The Babeau family started out as Catholics. Then they became right wing fundamentalists. Paul’s father, Raymond, did a fire and brimstone local cable show for years.”
• Who Paul Babeu reminds us of, in both appearance and forthrightness: Jim Guckert, a.k.a. Jeff Gannon.
• “Babeu” is pronounced “bab-YOO.”
“What character flaw most harms a public official?”
“Dishonesty. This is why most who serve in elected office are not trusted. They have broken a sacred trust the hold with the public.”
— Q&A with Paul Babeu
azcentral.com, August 4, 2008
“Yesterday, a tabloid article made a number of false allegations about me. Only one was true: I’m gay. Today, I held a press conference to discuss this. I want to be judged on my service: 20 years in the military, two deployments – including one in Iraq, a police officer who has responded to thousands of calls for help, and a Sheriff who has cut response times while reducing my own budget. I hope you will stand with me as we talk about the issues that matter: securing our border and ending the record debt and deficit spending that is stalling our economy and bankrupting the country we all love.”
How we read it:
“As much as I wish I could deny that I’m a big ol’ self-loathing ‘mo, there’s just too much evidence, so I won’t even try. Nevertheless, I’m gonna try to save face (and votes) with the vast majority of big ol’ ‘mo-hatin’ Arizonans by reassuring y’all that I still hate Mexicans as much as you do (even if I’m yankin’ their cranks at every opportunity), and that I’m still on active duty as a poor substitute for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”
Of course, we could be reading it wrong. Completely, totally, absolutely wrong. (But we don’t think we’re wrong at all. Not at all.)
[T]o some, including longtime Arizona law enforcement officials, Babeu is a pretender. Many officers question how 3 1/2 years spent patrolling Chandler’s streets, plus a border deployment, qualify him as a national expert on border security, said Bill Richardson, a retired Mesa police officer who also worked for 10 years on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force in Pima, Pinal and other counties.
“It would be like a college freshman pre-med student who’s had one anatomy class telling a veteran pathologist how to do an autopsy,” said Richardson, who has followed Babeu closely since 2008.
— Tim Steller and Brady McCombs
“Babeu is new face of Arizona sheriffs: Mass. transplant to Pinal molds himself into border-issue hawk”
Arizona Daily Star, May 23, 2010
Babeu sometimes wore his National Guard uniform in the race, [North Adams Mayor John Barrett III] said, but the voters discovered it was empty.
“He was very good at packaging himself,” Barrett said. “That’s what he did, and he’s doing it now.”
Memorable presentient observation and shot-to-hell promise:
However Babeu’s performance is judged, many people think his time as sheriff will be short because he will run for higher office. Ever the politician, Babeu said, “My goal is to serve an entire four-year term here and run for re-election in 2012. I love being the sheriff.”
Suggested Bible reading for Mr. Babeu:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
— 1 Timothy 2:1-2
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