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Washington officials urge state GOP to drop Rep. Matt Shea

Washington state Rep. Matt Shea finds himself in hot water once again. (Washington House Republicans)

Washington state Democratic officials are, once again, responding to recent news and controversy surrounding Republican state Representative Matt Shea.

The Guardian reported that it uncovered an online conversation between Spokane-area residents which promoted violence and surveillance of people with opposing viewpoints — mainly liberals. Rep. Shea was reportedly involved in that online conversation using an alias. He did not promote violence in his portion of the four-person chat, but did not object to the hostile rhetoric. He further asked for a list of names and wanted to perform background checks on local liberals.

Governor Jay Inslee responded to the report Monday.

“There is no place for hate in Washington state, especially in Washington’s Legislature,” Inslee said. “Rep. Matt Shea’s history of hate has now crossed a new line. He participated in conversations that advocated for violence against those with dissenting opinions. He is actively conspiring with others to surveil and target political activists.”

“Rep. Shea embodies a strain of extreme ideology that, throughout the decades and into the present, has caused deep harm to people and families. I strongly condemn both his rhetoric and his behavior.”

RELATED: “Biblical war” manifesto author faces campaign finance trouble

Washington’s Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib also called on “House Republicans to do the right thing and eject Matt Shea from their caucus.”

Republican responds

House Republican leader J.T. Wilcox responded to the news Monday:

Threats of political violence have no place in our society and I condemn them in the strongest terms. The statements made by others in a text conversation with Representative Matt Shea were wrong and deeply upsetting. I take these statements seriously and condemn them with no reservation. My conversations with Matt and Leadership will continue.

Wilcox also told the Associated Press that Shea didn’t make any threats of violence, himself, within the messages. Wilcox did not condemn Shea’s messages regarding background checks, and said he “would want to understand a little more about the conversation.”

An open letter to Washington Republicans

The Seattle Times further reports that the Washington State Democrats have sent an open letter to the Washington State Republican Party and the House Republican caucus, saying “it is past time to do something about Matt Shea.” They call on Washington Republicans to condemn Shea, saying “anything less is to condone and support the cancerous growth of extremism within your own ranks.”

The letter is signed by Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democrats. It also states:

You don’t have to be a student of history to recognize the dangers that people like Matt Shea pose to our hard-won democracy. I hope that Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions have not numbed you to the point where you can no longer recognize corrupt and dangerous elements inside your own walls.

The open letter points to a range of Shea’s involvement with extreme conspiracy theory and anti-government groups. It argues that Shea is tied to anti-government extremist organizations and militias; he has donated to anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic organizations which have been classified at hate groups; and he has spoken at extreme conspiracy theorist gatherings.

The Democrats’ letter further notes Shea’s personal actions that are “equally disturbing,” including: Shea pulled a loaded gun on a driver during a road rage incident; he has been sued for defamation; Shea posted threatening pictures of himself outside his political opponent’s home in 2012; he calls reporters “dirty, godless, hateful” people; and was accused of domestic violence.

Representative Shea was removed from state GOP leadership positions last year following another controversy over a “manifesto” he authored. That document detailed how to wage a war on opposition, in accordance to the Bible. The document discussed how “all males” should be killed if an enemy does not give up abortions, same-sex marriages, and communism.

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