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Nick R. Martin

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Nick

As he deals with fallout from a scandal involving a campaign volunteer who turned out to be his secret boyfriend, conservative Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu has insisted time and again that whatever work the man did for his campaign was strictly unpaid.

While Babeu's campaign finance reports initially appear to back up his claims, TPM has uncovered an unusual entry on a 2010 disclosure that deserves more explanation but which so far the sheriff has declined to discuss.

The entry is bound to raise eyebrows in light of revelations that Babeu's own brother, who is also a politician in Arizona, paid the man with campaign funds from his own account during the same time frame in early 2010.

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The largest newspaper in Arizona on Thursday night endorsed Mitt Romney in the state's upcoming Republican presidential primary.

In an editorial published on the paper's website and set to appear in Friday's newspaper, the Arizona Republic described Romney as an imperfect politician yet someone with a good track record in business:

There are better orators in American politics. Indeed, the Democrats appear to have one. And certainly there are Republicans who better project the passion for the office they seek. Steady, unflappable Romney would not a "passion president" make.

But there is eloquence in achievement. And, for the task at hand, as defined by Republicans themselves, the real-world achievements of Mitt Romney far surpass those of virtually all the lifelong politicians against whom he is competing.

In an unusual letter to two of his fellow local law enforcers this week, conservative Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu laid out a list of crimes alleged to have been committed by him or his former lover in the wake of their romance that soured last year.

The list was seven items long: "human rights violations, threatening and intimidating, misuse of public resources, theft of property, theft of identity, fraud and impersonation."

But now one prominent attorney tells TPM that the sheriff, who has made a name for himself as one of the nation's top hawks in the border debate, should be worried about one more: harboring an illegal immigrant.

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Hours after saying he would investigate Sheriff Paul Babeu's ongoing sex scandal, Arizona's top prosecutor recused himself from the inquiry and passed it off to somebody else.

Attorney General Tom Horne told the Arizona Republic newspaper that he decided he had a conflict because he and Babeu have supported each other politically in the past. Both are Republicans and the sheriff endorsed Horne during the 2010 election.

Babeu became embroiled in scandal in recent days after his ex-boyfriend accused the sheriff of threatening to deport him if their romance ever became public.

Babeu asked the sheriff and county attorney in nearby Gila County to investigate the matter. But they said they didn't have the resources in their tiny county to handle it. That's when Horne offered to take the investigation.

Now, according to the Republic, Horne said he has asked the state's solicitor general to take over.

A group will call for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's resignation with a 30-second television ad set to air during tonight's Republican presidential debate in Arizona.

The ad, which is being paid for by Citizens for a Better Arizona, will air just once on CNN in the Phoenix market. But the group's leader, Randy Parraz, told TPM it will also air 11 more times in the coming days on a local Fox affiliate.

"He’s the most incompetent sheriff," Parraz said. "It’s time to move on."

The advertisement attacks Arpaio's self-appointed title as "America's Toughest Sheriff."

"Really?" the ad's narrator says. "How is Arpaio tough when under his watch violent crimes, including homicides, increased?"

Citizens for a Better Arizona is the same organization that forced the recall of powerful state Senate President Russell Pearce last year.

Watch the spot here:

The top prosecutor in Arizona will investigate conservative Sheriff Paul Babeu and his ex-boyfriend after back-and-forth allegations between the two men in recent days.

Attorney General Tom Horne, a Republican, will look into the scandal, his spokesman confirmed to TPM. The war of words began Friday when the ex-boyfriend outed and accused Babeu of threatening to have him deported if their relationship ever became public. In turn, Babeu accused his former lover, Jose Orozco, of stealing from and impersonating him.

Before the scandal broke, Babeu was a rising Republican star who regularly endorsed fellow Arizona conservatives. Horne, the man who will now be investigating him, was one of the politicians who took the sheriff's endorsement in 2010 during his run for attorney general.

Babeu was the co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Arizona but resigned Saturday in light of the scandal. He is currently running for the Republican nomination in the state's 4th Congressional District.

 

Speaking at a major Republican event Tuesday in Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum met for about 20 minutes in private earlier in the day.

Arpaio, the tough talking sheriff who's currently the target of federal criminal and civil investigations, already endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican nomination for president. But after Perry dropped out of the race last month, other candidates have been angling for the sheriff's endorsement.

Santorum and Arpaio both spoke at the Maricopa County Republican Party Lincoln Day Lunch in Phoenix, but the sheriff said they also took the opportunity to talk privately.

Here's a rush transcript from Arpaio's speech, which was broadcast on C-SPAN: 

I had the pleasure of meeting all of the candidates running for office in private. I just met senators santorum for 20 minutes and private and had a nice talk. One thing that impressed me with him is he is going at it from grassroots people. He understands that people are the bosses. I take that very serious also. It is the peoelect you, and it's great to have the people behind you. That is what keeps me going.

Closing arguments are scheduled today in the trial of white supremacist twin brothers accused of sending a mail bomb in 2004 to a city diversity office in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Associated Press reports.

Brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon, who have longtime ties to groups like the Ku Klux Klan and White Aryan Resistance, pleaded not guilty in the bombing plot.

The trial is the result of a deep undercover investigation run by agents in the Arizona office of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Jose Orozco, 34, is the real identity of the Mexican immigrant who accused conservative Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu of threatening to have him deported if their romance ever became public, according to a Phoenix television station.

Before now, the man was known simply as "Jose" in newspaper and television reports in which he accused the rising Republican star of intimidation following their three-year relationship and outed the sheriff as gay. The man's face was blurred in photographs and on-camera interviews.

But on Monday night, Phoenix news station KTVK ran an unblurred photograph of Orozco, used his full name and said it was the real identity the sheriff's former lover.

KTVK did not interview Orozco or disclose how they obtained the information.

Watch the report:

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