EL RENO — The Canadian County sheriff says his opponent in the GOP primary has too much of a past to be the county's top lawman.
Sheriff Randall Edwards, who will face challenger David Beaty in Tuesday's primary, said his opponent and former subordinate at the sheriff's department doesn't have the integrity to do the job.
The winner of Tuesday's election will face independent candidate Josh Moore, who also is a former employee of Edwards, in the November general election.
Edwards, 57, said Beaty has admitted to tampering with evidence and having an affair with a confidential source during a 1999 multicounty investigation of Faisal Mohammad and Jamil Mohammad, brothers accused of illegally distributing pseudoephedrine.
The Mohammads owned convenience stores and sold huge quantities of the drug during the time, which drew the attention of authorities. One of the stores was in El Reno, court records show.
The sheriff said Beaty's actions more than a decade ago remain just as relevant today as they were when they first came to light.
“I believe it is a reflection of character, and character is everything in law enforcement,” Edwards said. “Especially in a position of trust.”
Beaty, 44, doesn't deny the accusations being made against him. He said he tampered with surveillance equipment — essentially editing the recording — when he realized he and the confidential source had been taped during a conversation.
“I tried to hide it; I did,” he said. “I had an affair. Again, I was wrong.”
Beaty said he was never charged with a crime for tampering with the recording equipment — or for having an affair with the confidential source.
He said the Mohammad brothers still were served justice, despite defense attorneys' efforts to discredit the investigation after news of his affair with the confidential source.
“They served time in federal prison,” he said. “I'm not sure how long, but they were in prison.”
Beaty has continued to work in law enforcement until last year, even after he was fired by the Canadian County Sheriff's Department. He now works in private security and as a reserve officer for the Union City Police Department.
“It's amazing ... this never came up until this election. Nobody's ever questioned my integrity,” Beaty said.
“But I'm OK with it. I did it, so now I've got to deal with the repercussions.”
Edwards said he's in possession of documents that have circulated recently, which show Beaty's involvement in the 1999 drug case against the Mohammads. He stopped short of saying that he supplied them to the media, though.
“I think it's something people in the county need to know ... and obviously I'm not the only one,” the sheriff said. “What he's admitted to in the past is still important.”
If re-elected, Edwards said he'll focus on expanding the department's computer crimes division, which focuses on catching individuals who use the Internet and computers to abuse children. He also said he's looking forward to the completion of the county's new jail addition, which he helped design.
“In fact, we just arrested a man who came to Canadian County to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old girl,” the sheriff said. “We've got an undercover computer operator who poses as a minor.”
Beaty said he would work to control spending, which he contends is a problem at the sheriff's department.
“I think we need to prioritize our spending much better,” he said. “The department has too many supervisors and not enough deputies. ... I think at one point, the ratio was nearly one-to-one.”
Beaty said he'll also work to improve the department's community relations, both between the public and other law enforcement agencies in Canadian County.
According to reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, Edwards claims campaign contributions totaling $10,000, which he provided himself in the form of a self loan. His expenditures total $8,590 as of June 15.
Beaty raised $3,775 between April 19 and June 15, state records show, from several different sources. His campaign expenditures total $18,109.79.