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Latino group seeks federal investigation into gay Ariz. sheriff

PHOENIX - A Latino rights organization has asked for a federal investigation into an Arizona sheriff seeking the Republican nomination for a congressional seat who was forced to confirm he is gay amid allegations of misconduct made by a Mexican immigrant with whom he had a relationship.

The group, Respect Respeto, on Monday sent a request to the U.S. Department of Justice for a probe into Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu for abuse of power.

Babeu confirmed he is gay Saturday and resigned from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's Arizona committee amid his ex-lover's allegations. He denied claims he tried to threaten the man, a former campaign volunteer, with deportation if their past relationship was made public.


Respect Respeto wants the sheriff investigated on behalf of every immigrant who has been threatened with deportation.

The group alleges in its request to the Justice Department that Babeu made "text messages, pictures and threats that are unbecoming of an elected sheriff."

The letter, signed by the group's director, Lydia Guzman, reads, "The  threat came from the top law enforcement officer in Pinal County, a person who’s sworn to protect and serve victims of crime. These types of threats and acts of intimidation send a horrible message to the migrant community that they cannot look to their law enforcement agencies for protection when they are victims of a crime."

The group could not be reached by msnbc.com on Tuesday.

Ariz. sheriff quits Romney campaign, says: 'I'm gay'

Babeu, who was elected in 2008 as the first Republican sheriff of Pinal County, has gained national media attention for speaking out against illegal immigration and the unsecured U.S. border with Mexico.

On Monday, Babeu told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he was the victim, and that his ex-lover, identified publicly only as "Jose," "wanted to harm me."

Jose -- who Politico reported on Tuesday is a 34-year-old Mexican national living in the US legally -- had volunteered as a social media manager for Babeu's campaign websites. Babeu alleged Jose tweeted photos of him and posted "very negative things about me, posing as me."

The photos had been sent to Jose for "personal consumption," he said.

Babeu faces primary elections in Arizona on Aug. 28. He claims Jose's actions were politically motivated.

"There were several crimes committed here against me and my campaign," Babeu said. "All I wanted done is for this to stop."

The two men met on gay.com in 2006.

This article includes reporting by msnbc.com staff and The Associated Press.

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