(Updated below with comments by Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Rios)
Babeu's spokesman, Tim Gaffney, put out a press release today (attached), citing an anonymous citizen complaint about misconduct by Rios. The letter alleges that Rios does not live in the district he was elected to represent, and that he has illegally requested mileage reimbursements for driving to homes where he doesn't live in Dudleyville and Superior. Rios actually lives in Apache Junction, the letter-writter alleges.
The press release and allegation mark an escalation of hostilities between Babeu and Rios, who has stood in the way of some of the sheriff's highly publicized proposals. Rios, an old-school pol who was once president of the state senate, initially blocked Babeu's proposal to form an anti-smuggling unit, before they reached a compromise in November. Rios also criticized Babeu for seeking public donations for semi-automatic rifles during nationwide interviews without ever going to the board of supervisors to ask for funding.
Babeu is a Republican who is widely considered a possible candidate for higher office, and Rios is a Democrat.
Rios scoffed at the allegations, noting that his residency was actually the subject of a lawsuit decades ago and has been declared legitimate by the courts. He was particularly unhappy that Gaffney would send an anonymous complaint letter all over the state.
"Any board member who dares to oppose the sheriff on what he wants, this is what he gets," Rios said.
He compared his treatment to the investigations launched by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio against county officials there.
Rios acknowledged that he spends most of his nights — perhaps 60 percent — in his Apache Junction home but said his official primary residence is in Dudleyville, where he spends many weekends at a mobile home on five acres owned by his in-laws. State law considers this type of arrangement legitimate, Rios said.