Update 8:10 am: Paul Babeu's Campaign Director Chirs DeRose sent the following response, which we present here in full -
"The Sheriff's budget is balanced, always has been, always will be. This despite the Democrat controlled County Board appropriating fuel costs at 2008 levels, for deputies to patrol a county the size of Connecticut.
"After the Sheriff's last budget was submitted and approved by the County Board, the Board Chairman signed an agreement with the labor unions representing the Sheriff's employees dramatically increasing costs to the department.
"But make no mistake, this budget will remain balanced.
"This is an attempt by the Sheriff's Democratic opponents to discredit him. This truth is, the Sheriff has cut his department costs by 10% and cut emergency response times in half."
If you think the Presidential politics are getting nasty, just keep your eye on the local Congressional district race between the two Pauls. This one won't be pretty, that's for sure.
Sheriff Paul Babeu announced some new polling data this week that seems to indicate he has a pretty commanding lead in the new Arizona CD 4 race.
Public Opinion Strategies announced their findings on Wednesday, January 25:
Paul Babeu 31%
Paul Gosar 23%
Ron Gould 19%
Public Opinion Strategies also took a look at the intensity of the likely voters.
Definitely vote for Paul Babeu 21%
Definitely vote for Gosar 12%
Definitely vote for Gould 10%
In addition, the polling company reports, "Babeu also has solid leads with key groups in primaries – very conservative voters, Tea Party supporters, strong NRA supporters, and base Republicans... Sheriff Paul Babeu's aggressive leadership in his current position has given him the advantage in the Republican primary campaign. He is strong in his geographic base, and his lead among key turnout groups in Republican primaries is also solid. Babeu is well-positioned to win."
Earlier in the week, a Politico article was published, Gosar asked Babeu To Run for His Seat, by David Catanese, to which Trey Terry, the Political Director for Sheriff Paul Babeu responded on Facebook, "I'm glad this is finally getting out..."
A Closer Look at Babeu?
But, that was all before allegations came out that Sheriff Babeu's department has a $3 million budget deficit, and that there are questions about the legality of some of his expenditures. Gosar's camp was quick to respond to that, sending out the following press release on Sunday:
Congressman Gosar Responds to Sheriff Babeu’s Abuse of Public Trust
"Prescott, AZ- Today, it was reported that Sheriff Babeu's campaign for Congress illegally used taxpayer resources to promote his candidacy, even while his office runs $3 million over budget. Using public resources for campaign purposes is a potential violation of federal, state and local law."
"'This is a very serious breach of the public trust," said first-term Congressman Paul Gosar. 'Using taxpayer money to promote a political campaign is not only prohibited by law, but it is also exactly the kind of abuse of authority that Arizona voters reject from their public officials. As a law enforcement official, he should know better'."
"It was recently reported that as Sheriff Babeu campaigns for Congress, he is on track to run a budget deficit of over $3 million at the sheriff's office. In reference to the sheriff's spending, Pinal County Supervisor Bryan Martyn said, 'We have worked too hard to let mismanagement affect the bottom line.'"
"When asked about the use of official resources to promote Babeu's campaign, a campaign spokesman refused to take any responsibility his and the sheriff’s personal actions instead blaming Pinal County employees, calling them 'monkeys.'"
"Congressman Paul Gosar was elected to Congress in 2010 as one of the historic class of 87 Republican freshman, committed to reining in government spending and fighting the Obama Agenda. Prior to his election to Congress, he has spent his career in the private sector as a family dentist. As a result of congressional redistricting, he is running for reelection in Arizona's 4th Congressional District."
These accusations are rooted in a couple of reports: Babeu's Campaign and Sheriff's Office Mixup by Rebekah L. Sanders at AZCentral, and an article titled, Sheriff Is Set To Exceed Budget found in USA Today, written by Lindsey Collom.
What About Ron Gould?
As an Arizona State Senator, Gould, from Lake Havasu City is pretty busy right now in legislature. Although he, too,was able to take a little bit of a dig at Gosar in his January 11 announcement, "This district wants a Congressman who is willing to stand up and do what's right. Unlike some in this race, I won't vote to increase the debt ceiling and I won't seek out wasteful stimulus money that is nothing but an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars."
So far, Gould hasn't commented on the recent revelations regarding Babeu's budget deficit.
Hold on, it's going to be an interesting ride. And there are still opportunities for more candidates to decide to run.
The first day for candidates to officially file will be on April 30, 2012, and all applications must be in - with signed petitions - by May 30, 2012.
The last day to register to vote in the Primary is July 30, 2012.
Early voting will begin on August 2, 2012 and the primary will be held on August 28, 2012.