A Mexican immigrant who had a romantic relationship with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has filed a $1 million notice of claim against the sheriff and the county.
Sheriff's officials say the precursor to a lawsuit was received by their office Monday, but they declined further comment.
Last month, Babeu announced that he's gay and once had a relationship with Jose Orozco while the immigrant was a campaign volunteer.
Orozco has accused Babeu of threatening to deport him if he revealed their relationship. Babeu has denied any wrongdoing and has asked for an independent investigation into the matter.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office responded to the claim with the following statement:
"A notice of claim was provided to our office earlier today regarding this matter. The Arizona Republic and several other news entities have already confirmed the photos were shopped around for months to various news stations in an effort to bring out the fact Sheriff Babeu is gay. The photos were sent privately and never meant to be displayed publicly. Nobody ran with a story because it's the sheriff's personal and his private life. Only after the story was turned down by media outlets was the allegation made about Sheriff Babeu threatening Jose with deportation.
"Sheriff Babeu has said from the beginning that Jose is in the United States legally and has been since he first met him. After the story broke, both Jose and his attorney confirmed Jose is here legally in the United States. Sheriff Babeu and his attorney Chris DeRose have also both said that Jose was never threatened with deportation as it has been reported.
"Now during the past few days, Jose's attorney has said the word deportation was never used. It is clear that the photos and subsequent attacks are meant to harm the sheriff personally and politically. Sheriff Babeu personally requested a comprehensive investigation by the Attorney General's Office to clear his name and seek possible charges. The case has been assigned to the solicitor general and until the investigation is done, Sheriff Babeu will not be making any further statement to members of the media regarding this issue."
Orozco's claim creates new complexities for Babeu, who's completing his first term as sheriff and is running for a congressional seat in northwest Arizona.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.