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

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:

Arizona's most famous sheriff, Joe Arpaio, distanced himself from a fellow conservative sheriff who's been rocked by scandal in recent days.

Arpaio in the past has been a strong supporter of Sheriff Paul Babeu, a fellow Republican and rising star in the party. He held a fundraiser for Babeu in June and has frequently said nice things about him in public.

But now that Babeu has come out as gay and is facing allegations that he threatened to have a former boyfriend deported, Arpaio told CNN's John King on Monday afternoon that he wants no part of it.

"He’s going to have to work through this," Arpaio said in an interview with King. "I’m not going to give him any advice."

Arpaio also said Babeu asked for his endorsement for the Republican nomination in Arizona's 4th Congressional District, but Arpaio added that he has no plans to make a decision about that any time soon.

Conservative Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, a well-known border hawk, revealed more details on Monday about his longtime romance with a Mexican immigrant who is now accusing the sheriff of threatening to deport him if their relationship ever became public.

Babeu told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he dated the man, who has only been identified as "Jose," for three years. He also repeated his accusation that the man committed crimes against him after their relationship soured.

Here's a rush transcript from the CNN interview: 

We had seen each other privately and for some time, close to three years, simply in dating. And he had volunteered separately on my campaign and in an unpaid status. Actually was in control of our website. Just a volunteer website for sheriff for my political campaign. I also started a twitter accounts and did the social media. And how this all started, wolf, and I showed you some documents ahead of time is back back in april or may of last year, we turned it over as we were growing our campaign, to a paid professional. And he turned all that over and then, six or eight months later, he then, because he still had the passwords took control of that information, started to tweet and people talk about somebody tweeted and they lied about it later. This is the truth. That he tweeted and he also took property not only of all my photographs of our financial donations, all of that, and started to post very negative things about me, posing as me. The only communication my attorney had -- everybody is saying this is deportation -- one, he's legal. He has said that. I've said that. And then, in addition, this whole thing about deportation, we all know I don't have deportation authority. I have the authority to arrest. There were several crimes committed here against me and my campaign.