An outspoken Republican member of the Barnstable County Commission who was imprisoned in 1991 for threatening to kill President George H.W. Bush is drawing a new round of criticism for a Twitter poll in which he asked whether gay politicians are too self-absorbed to be effective lawmakers.
Ronald Beaty Jr. is a strong supporter of President Trump who was elected to one of the commission’s three seats in 2016 and is scheduled to stay in office until 2021. Beaty, who frequently posts polls on his Twitter account, is under fire for one he posted Tuesday.
“Generally speaking, are gay politicians too self-absorbed and self-centered to adequately represent ALL of their constituents in a fair and equitable manner?’’ he posted.
In response, the chairman of the panel, Chatham resident Ronald Bergstrom, issued an apology on behalf of the commission for the comments of his colleague.
“Barnstable County Regional Government would like to apologize to the residents on Cape Cod for the offensive and discriminatory questions posted online by Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty,’’ Bergstrom wrote in the statement.
Bergstrom added that Beaty’s “sentiments do not represent the views of Barnstable County, and we strongly oppose this kind of divisive behavior. We are proud to serve Cape Cod, a unique region of collaboration and partnership that embraces diversity and inclusion.”
Beaty served 14 months in federal prison in the early 1990s for threatening Bush, then-US Senator Ted Kennedy, then-US Attorney Wayne Budd, and then-state Senator Lois Pines. He also had mailed threats to his wife, the Globe reported in 2014. He told the Globe he was “going through a bad period” at the time.
Beaty was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Beacon Hill elections but won his current post at the time of Trump’s 2016 election victory. Asked for comment on calls for his resignation and on Bergstrom’s statement, Beaty e-mailed the written statement he has sent to several media outlets.
“In this country, we have something called the United States Constitution, which includes our First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech! I happen to be an elected public official who frequently asks questions, and chooses to exercise that God given Right from time to time,” he wrote.
He added, “In speaking my mind, I am not politically correct and hope others will speak their minds in an equally candid fashion as well. Since I have done nothing wrong, then I have absolutely nothing to apologize for, and most assuredly will not consider resigning from my position as Barnstable County Commissioner!”
In an e-mail to the Globe, Beaty dismissed Bergstrom’s statement of apology.
“He is entitled to his ‘opinion’ just like anyone else,’’ Beaty wrote, adding there “really is not much else to say, other than the fact that the matter is clearly a manufactured controversy being propagated by those who wish to engage in political grandstanding and little else.”
Four members of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates on Wednesday called on Beaty to resign, as has state Representative Tim Whelan, a Cape Republican, the Cape Cod Times reported.