Prominent Romney Supporter Announces He's Gay, Steps Away from Campaign

Ethan Klapper and Reid Wilson

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated which campaign of Sen. John McCain Paul Babeu played a role in. It was his 2010 Senate reelection campaign.

Paul Babeu, the Pinal County, Ariz., sheriff and an Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, announced suddenly on Saturday that he is gay and will leave the Romney campaign, the Phoenix New Times reported.

The admission from Babeu comes a day after the New Times reported that he had threatened his boyfriend, an illegal immigrant, with deportation after he refused to sign an agreement keeping their relationship under wraps. Babeu was a John McCain backer in 2010 and was a face of his campaign's anti-illegal immigration stance.

"I called the Romney campaign, and I told him I'm going to step away from the campaign," Babeu said at a news conference.

Romney spokewoman Andrea Saul confirmed Babeu's departure to the Huffington Post.

"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," she said.

Romney is campaigning for president on a platform that opposes gay marriage.

Babeu was the star of the 2010 advertisement in which McCain says he wanted to "complete the danged fence," denied the report in a press conference on Saturday. Babeu, who is running for a newly drawn House seat that stretches from the Phoenix exurbs north and west to the Nevada border, admitted he is gay but called the allegations that he threatened his boyfriend with deportation "completely false," according to the Arizona Republic.