- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Log Cabin Republicans on Tuesday called for Democrats to retract and apologize for an attack ad against Arizona Republican congressional candidate Paul Babeu, denouncing it as “homophobic” and a “sick smear.”

The 30-second ad released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cites a controversy over child-abuse allegations in 2000 at a school for troubled youths once run by Mr. Babeu, who is openly gay.

“We can’t trust him with our kids,” says the ad released Tuesday.

The commercial features footage from a 2012 investigation by Phoenix TV station KNXV ABC-15, including the highlighting of words such as “strip,” “sexual abuse,” and “dangerous practices.”

“Attack ads don’t get more homophobic than this,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement. “Not only is this commercial factually inaccurate, but it shows just how low the DCCC is willing to go to stop a gay Republican from being elected to Congress.”

The acusations, which have been extensively covered in the Arizona media, center on the now-shuttered DeSisto School in Massachusetts, a boarding school where Mr. Babeu served as headmaster and executive director from 1998 to 2001.

The state of Massachusetts ended some of the school’s harsh disciplinary practices after a 2000 investigation, but Mr. Babeu was not named in the probe.

“Democrats love to say they support the LGBT community — unless you’re a gay Republican, in which case floating the specter of gays as child predators and deviants is fair game,” Mr. Angelo said.

A 2012 investigation by the Arizona Republic found that “the problems began before Babeu took over and continued after he left.”

Babeu was never named in a specific allegation,” said the Republic in a Jan. 26 article. “But the state did find systemic problems at the school and went to court to stop some punishments used at the school, including withholding food, strip-searching and the placement of students in chairs facing a corner for hours.”

The issue cropped up again during the Republican primary after ABC-15 obtained a 16-year-old home video in which Mr. Babeu defends the school’s approach.

“You should see these people coming in there … they are absolutely bonkers,” Mr. Babeu says in the video. “And they come into this school and it’s very structured. It’s disciplined.”

He added, “The only way you make it through there is you work the system. You follow the rules. And then before you know it, you are buying into everything. And they believe it and it is therapeutic. And it helps them.”

Mr. Babeu, who was elected Pinal County Sheriff in 2008 and reelected in 2012, released a statement after video aired in January saying that it showed nothing new.

“As the administrative head of the school, I had no responsibility over student discipline. I had no role in student affairs,” Mr. Babeu said. “The school had a psychiatrist and six therapists in charge of student care and the teaching was supervised by another director. All this has been established and I was never directly or indirectly involved in any incident. I was never named or even interviewed in any lawsuit or complaint, which is common for a school for at-risk youth.”

The DCCC did not respond immediately Tuesday for comment about the Log Cabin Republicans’ demands for an apology and removal of the ad.

Mr. Babeu won last week’s five-way Republican primary for Arizona’a 1st Congressional District, which includes Flagstaff and much of eastern Arizona.

He faces Democratic former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran in the race for the House seat vacated by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democratic who is challenging Republican Sen. John McCain.

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