Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says he had nothing to do with a controversial billboard put up in Oracle with his name on it.
The billboard up in the town of Oracle says, "This is our most serious public safety issue and a national security threat to America, Paul Babeu, Pinal County Sheriff" with a photo of a Latino family.
It has angered many who call it racist to simply put a Latino family next to a quote Babeu said in regard to illegal immigration and drug smuggling.
Babeu's spokesman Tim Gaffney sent out an email saying that the billboard was not put up by him or anybody from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and that he didn't direct the mesage on the billboard to the family in the picture. Gaffney says the billboard is up on the property of Frank Pierson and Mary Ellen Kazda of Oracle.
Through Gaffney, Babeu issued this statement:
“I find this billboard offensive and misleading. This message is not truthful and takes away from the great work our law enforcement members do on a daily basis to protect our Pinal County families.”
Gaffney writes that "Sheriff Babeu has consistently stated that 'those responsible for drug and human smuggling and those entering the U.S. illegally especially from terrorist countries are the most serious public safety threat to America.'”
And Babeu took the opportunity to take another jab at President Barack Obama: "This billboard represents the same misleading and misguided message that President Obama made when he gave the example of how law enforcement would target a father walking down the street eating ice cream with his daughter if SB1070 passed."
UPDATE: Here's a story from a local paper in Pinal County providing some insight into the people who put up the billboard and their motivations: