If Sheriff Babeu Can't Maintain His Own Budget, How Will He Fix Washington?

January 20, 2012 12:45 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Sheriff Paul Babeu

Fox News' favorite sheriff Paul Babeu recently announced that he would be running for Arizona's 4th congressional district, stating, "it's time for a new Sheriff in Washington." While Babeu is known for his attacks against immigrants, part of his campaign plan for his congressional run includes fixing the budget and pushing for fiscal responsibility. Babeu claimed in a press release announcing his exploratory committee that he's the man for the job because "as Sheriff, he reduced his budget by 10% while decreasing response times to emergencies by 50%." From Babeu's release, via AZCentral.com:

Paul Babeu is America's Sheriff of the Year, as voted by his colleagues in the National Sheriff's Association. As Sheriff, he reduced his budget by 10% while decreasing response times to emergencies by 50%.

But for someone touting his credentials as a fiscal hawk, he seems to have failed in his financial responsibilities this year. In an article published yesterday on AZCentral.com, it was revealed that Babeu "is on track to exceed his budget by more than $3.2 million," or about 7 percent of this year's total. Although Babeu didn't show up to a mid-year budget presentation where this information was revealed, that didn't dissuade supervisors from criticizing the sheriff.  Pinal County Board of Supervisors  Chairman Pete Rios said, "You're telling me, at this point in time, the sheriff is well on his way to exceeding his budget by over seven percent as he's out there campaigning, telling people he reduced his budget by 10 percent?"

Babeu responded to the criticism by claiming that the county hasn't allowed increases in the fuel budget to cover the rising gas prices since 2008 and complaining about a $5 million courthouse renovation.

This isn't the first time Babeu has had trouble with money since becoming sheriff. An internal audit of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office from Babeu's first year found that "financial management within the PCSO could be improved significantly." The review found that among other things, timekeeping procedures were inefficient, overtime was not properly justified, overtime expenditures were not properly controlled, budget monitoring was ineffective and inefficient and purchase cards for former employees were not deactivated.

Babeu is either being disingenuous or dishonest in his claims about the budget. Saying he will change Washington's spending habits is tough sell when he can't even manage his own.

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