Beleaguered Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeau on Tuesday asked authorities in a neighboring county for a comprehensive, independent investigation into allegations against him and his office.
Babeu asked the Gila County Sheriff's Office and County Attorney's Office to "look into allegations of human rights violations, threatening and intimidating, misuse of public resources, theft of property, theft of identity, fraud and impersonation."
In a one-page letter to Gila County Sheriff John Armor and County Attorney Daisy Flores, Babeu said he had instructed his office and political staff "to fully cooperate with your inquiry in an effort to settle these allegations made against me."
Babeu publicly acknowledged Saturday that he is gay amid allegations of misconduct made by a Mexican immigrant with whom he had a relationship. He has denied claims he tried to threaten the man with deportation if their relationship was made public.
Babeu is seeking the Republican nomination for a congressional seat. He has resigned from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's Arizona committee amid the man's allegations, which were first published Friday in the Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly magazine.
His lawyer, Melissa Weiss-Riner, has said he retained her firm's services because he was contacted by Babeu's attorney and "felt intimidated."
The Latino rights organization Respect Respeto on Monday sent a request to the U.S. Department of Justice for a probe into Babeu for abuse of power. The group said it wants the sheriff investigated on behalf of every immigrant who has been threatened with deportation and alleges in its request to the Justice Department that Babeu made "text messages, pictures and threats that are unbecoming of an elected sheriff."
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that his office hadn't received a complaint against Babeu over the allegations. Horne said if such a complaint were made, it would be "more appropriate" to be handled at the county level.
Babeu, a first-term sheriff who has risen to national prominence with his strong opposition to illegal immigration and smuggling, said the accusations were an attempt to hurt his political career.
Babeu has vowed to continue his campaign in Arizona's rural 4th Congressional District seat. The huge congressional district where he is seeking election runs from western Arizona to the desert south of Phoenix. Its voters are heavily Republican and generally very conservative.
Babeu faces an incumbent tea party Republican who switched districts, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, and state Sen. Ron Gould, a conservative from northwestern Arizona, in an August primary.
Weiss-Riner has told the New Times that Babeu's attorney and campaign consultant falsely told her client that his visa had expired. Babeu told reporters he believed the man, identified only by his first name Jose, was living in the country legally.
Weiss-Riner didn't immediate return a call for comment Tuesday.
Babeu, who is not married, said his relationship with Jose ended sometime before September. Jose ran his campaign website and Twitter account, and Babeu said he began posting derogatory items on the sites after their breakup. Weiss-Riner has said that as a campaign volunteer, Jose created and maintained several websites and accounts at Babeu's request from approximately 2008 through late 2011.
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