Romney Arizona co-chair quits

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu speaks at a news conference, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 in Florence, Ariz. Babeu, a sheriff seeking the GOP nomination for an Arizona congressional seat has been forced to confirm he is gay amid allegations of misconduct made by a man with whom he previously had a relationship. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu on Saturday denied claims he tried to threaten the man, who is Hispanic, with deportation if their past relationship was made public. Deirdre Hamill,AP Photo/The Arizona Republic

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu speaks at a news conference, Feb. 18, 2012 in Florence, Ariz.
Deirdre Hamill,AP Photo/The Arizona Republic

Updated 11:15 p.m. ET

An Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign resigned after allegations of misconduct were made by an ex-boyfriend in a Phoenix newspaper on Thursday.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu denied the allegations in the article in a press conference on Saturday, calling them "completely false."  He also publicly announced he is gay.

The Romney campaign said they received a call from Babeu and accepted his resignation.

"Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him. We support his decision," spokesperson Ryan Williams said.

Arizona is holding its primary on February 28, and all four candidates will be in the state Wednesday for a CNN-sponsored debate.

The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday allegations from Babeu's ex-boyfriend "Jose," who said the sheriff threatened him with deportation if he told anyone about their relationship.

Babeu said in the news conference that he is no longer working with the Romney campaign. "I called the Romney campaign, and I told him I'm going to step away from the campaign," Babeu told reporters.

Babeu's own political aspirations might now be on the line. In his role as sheriff, Babeu advocated for strong border security and immigration enforcement. He is running to replace Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor in the fourth Congressional district of Arizona on a tough immigration stance.

He has become a Republican voice on the issue appearing on Fox News and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week where he talked about the "assault" the federal government is imposing on Arizona for suing over the harsh immigration law SB 1070.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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