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Immigrant rights activist critical of Sheriff Paul Babeu’s congressional run

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — A second congressional run for Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is causing consternation for an immigrant rights activist.

During his time as sheriff, Babeu has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration. However, Salvador Reza with the group Tonatierra, said a relationship between Babeu and an undocumented immigrant has an air of hypocrisy.

“He’s a fraud,” Reza said of Babeu. “On the one hand, he’s going after undocumented workers and all that, and then his boyfriend is actually an undocumented person. How can somebody like that have any credibility?”

Babeu said he was exonerated by the people of Pinal County when he was re-elected in 2012.

“The people who knew me best, the 420,000 residents of Pinal County, I said to them that I want to be judged just like any of your family members who you love want to be judged — by their merit, by their performance and their contributions to the community,” Babeu said when announcing his second run on Monday. “And by the end of the day they returned me overwhelmingly.”

After news of the 2012 scandal broke, Babeu dropped out of the congressional race for the state’s 4th Congressional District. He was accused of misusing his power and public money to harass his former boyfriend. He was cleared of any wrongdoing after asking State Solicitor General Dave Cole to look into the case.

“The controversies of the past in 2012, all of those were false,” Babeu said.

KTAR’s Bob McClay and Cooper Rummell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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