Two Mass. political players in Oath Keepers database
Ron Beaty and David Sanders flagged by ADL
A CANDIDATE FOR Barnstable County commissioner and an elected member of the Wilbraham Republican Town Committee have been named as members of the right-wing anti-government group Oath Keepers in a leaked database analyzed by the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL identified Ronald Beaty of West Barnstable, a candidate for Barnstable County commissioner, and David A. Sanders of Wilbraham, a member of the Wilbraham Republican Town Committee, as being included in the Oath Keepers database.
The Oath Keepers, which officially launched in 2009, is one of the country’s largest right-wing anti-government groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it has tens of thousands of members, mostly current and former law enforcement personnel and military veterans. The group claims to defend the US Constitution. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist activity, says the group traffics in conspiracy theories and has participated in multiple armed standoffs against the US government. It also provides voluntary armed security – not associated with official law enforcement – at right-wing events.
The Oath Keepers have traditionally been secretive about their membership, but a year ago, the non-profit journalist collective Distributed Denial of Secrets published 38,000 names from their membership list. The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that combats bigotry and discrimination, compared that list to public databases to identify elected officials and members of law enforcement and the military. The information includes a disclaimer that an individual’s inclusion in the database is not proof of their membership or participation in the Oath Keepers.
Beaty, who did not return requests for comment, is a long-time fixture – and lightning rod — in GOP politics on the Cape.
The Barnstable Patriot reported that Beaty has called himself the “Donald Trump of Cape Cod.” The Cape Cod Times reported that Beaty has repeatedly gotten himself in trouble over social media posts, including one seen as inciting violence and another disparaging gay politicians. The paper also said Beaty served time in federal prison for threatening to kill President George H.W. Bush and other politicians in the 1990s.
Beaty lost a race for state representative in 1990; won the GOP nomination for state Senate from the Cape and Islands in 2014 but lost in the general election; lost a race for Republican Party state committeeman in 2016; and lost a Republican primary for state representative in 2018. He served as a Barnstable County commissioner from 2017 to 2021 when he lost his seat. According to the Barnstable Patriot, Beaty considered running for multiple statewide offices before deciding to run again for county commissioner this year.
Beaty was the only Republican candidate on the ballot for county commissioner. He will run against incumbent Democrat Ronald Bergstrom in November. Beaty’s campaign website says he wants to restore “balance, transparency, and fiscal sanity” to Cape Cod government, “excise the bureaucratic cancer” that infests government, and “remove the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse that has unquestionably become the hallmark of the progressive Democrats currently in control.”
The current members of the Barnstable County Commission, including Bergstrom, did not respond to requests for comment.
State Rep. Tim Whelan, a Brewster Republican running for sheriff who previously called on Beaty to resign as county commissioner, said Beaty has a right to join any legal organization he chooses and to run for office. But Whelan said Beaty is well-known on Cape Cod for making inflammatory and homophobic statements, and he predicted that voters are unlikely to reelect him. “I certainly don’t plan on voting for him. I think his chances of election to his former post are slim,” Whelan said.
Sanders, a long-time Wilbraham Republican Town Committee member, said he believes he was included in the database because he attended a rally in Washington, DC, run by Fox News host Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project, an organization affiliated with the conservative Tea Party movement that aimed to unify the United States around the principles of the Founding Fathers. The organization participated in several Washington rallies around 2009, and Sanders could not remember the date of the one he went to.
Update: After publication, Beaty issued the following statement: “I absolutely refuse to give any credence to recent news media propaganda regarding “the Oath Keepers“ or by dignifying any of it with a response.”