The Washington Post just can’t quite bring itself to believe that Tea-Publican voters in Arizona’s CD 1 picked a scandal-ridden anti-immigrant demagogue, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu aka “Joe Jr.,” in Arizona’s GOP primary.
They must not be familiar with Arizona. You can be the devil himself as long as your hatin’ on brown people; that’s usually all it takes in a GOP primary. His own sisters told people not to vote for him. Now he’s a GOP congressional nominee.
[I]n a five-way primary Tuesday for the Phoenix-and Tucson-area congressional district, Republicans nominated a scandal-ridden conservative sheriff — a man so controversial, even two of his sisters had warned voters not to support him.
House Republican operatives say much of this is old news, and they congratulated Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu on his win Tuesday night. He’ll face former police officer Tom O’Halleran in a fight to replace Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who’s challenging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the Senate race. Nonpartisan handicappers at Cook Political Report say Arizona’s first district is a toss up.
Babeu’s campaign says that Babeu, who’s been a local sheriff in 2008, understands issues like immigration and environmental issues facing the district. And Republicans in the district have a history of winning over conservative Democratic Mormons in the area, so Babeu’s hard-line immigration position may actually help him here.
What’s more, in 2012, Babeu won his reelection to sheriff by more than 20 points after much of these bad headlines came out.
But it’s undeniable that Babeu brings a lot of baggage with him to this competitive congressional race. Like, a lot.
Here’s a rundown of his scandals and bad headlines, past and present:
A troubled past with a troubled boarding school
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Babeu was head of business operations at Massachusetts boarding school for troubled children, where the disciplinary practices used there were later described in a state investigation as abusive and inhumane: “Students are routinely denied their basic human rights.”
His campaign spokesman Barrett Marson says Babeu had “nothing, zip, zero, zilch” to do with student discipline or student instruction.
In January, ABC 15 in Arizona got ahold of a home video of Babeu praising some of his school’s disciplinary measures, like having children farm instead of go to class, or having children sit in a metal chair facing a corner for “weeks” (Babeu’s words) at a time.
The school shut down in 2004 amid a state investigation.
In 2012, Babeu launched his first run for Congress in Arizona. But he dropped out four months in after an ex-boyfriend who was a Mexican immigrant outed the immigration hard-liner as being gay.
Babeu’s campaign says the sheriff believes his ex-boyfriend was in the country legally on a visa.
Running for Congress in the wrong district
When Babeu launched his campaign this time around, he listed the wrong congressional district on some of his forms and had to hire a D.C. law firm to fix it.
Sending a questionable mailer as sheriff
Then he was criticized for sending out a mailer to about 8,000 residents related to his duties as sheriff. Some Democrats and Republicans thought the mailer, which was paid for by money seized from alleged criminals, looked a lot like a mailer for his congressional campaign, in part because it prominently featured several photos of Babeu.
The sheriff’s office said it was not a political mailer.
His sisters endorse his opponent
Babeu’s family life has long been complicated. One of his sisters, Lucy Babeu, is a longtime critic of him. In July, she sent out a press release endorsing another candidate in the race, saying: “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.”
A few days later, another sister did the same. Veronica Keating said: “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.”
In a comment to the Phoenix New Times, Babeu’s campaign referred to Lucy as a “troubled sister.”
The Washington Post left out Joe Jr.’s favorite trick, whenever he wants to get attention he goes on conservative hate talk radio or FAUX News and just makes shit up about immigrant hordes descending on Pinal County, and only he can stop them! Has the Post already forgotten the refugee children from Central America and the Sycamore Canyon Boys Ranch scandal in Oracle back in 2014? Babeu’s media circus: the clowns showed up, but the refugee children did not.
This guy should never be allowed anywhere near Congress. It’s time for the voters of CD 1 to wake the hell up and to do what’s right. Tom O’Halleran is a good and decent man who will represent you well. in Congress.