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Washington House tags former FBI agent to investigate GOP lawmaker

Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Washington State House officially launched an investigation into Representative Matt Shea of Spokane this week. The Republican caucus, however, had already begun its own investigation of the politician.

“We have a number of law enforcement officers in our caucus, so we began that process,” J.T. Wilcox told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Wilcox is the House minority leader.

Democrats urge reprimand of state representative

“Then we heard from the chief clerk that they were going ahead with an outside investigation,” he said. “With consultation with our law enforcement members, we decided at that point we would suspend our investigation and turn our contacts that we had over to the House. Because the last thing we would want to do is interfere with an outside investigation.”

The House has hired Kathy Leodler, a former FBI agent and head of the Rampart Group, to handle the investigation. The investigation will determine if Matt Shea engaged in or promoted political violence, and also look into any alleged connections between the politician and groups engaging in political violence. It will also seek to assess the level of threat posed by such groups. The investigation is budgeted for $120,000.

Wilcox says he is OK with that scope of inquiry. But despite Republican support of the investigation, he is also wary of the situation becoming politicized. He says the Democrats have already been twisting it to their benefit.

“If you follow the Twitter feed of Washington State Democrats, you will see they have been politicizing this for months,” Wilcox said. “I think that is a challenge.”

“There’s going to be an investigation, we will conduct ourselves according to the results of the investigation,” he continued. “At this point, (Matt Shea) is a part-time legislator just like anyone else.”

Wilcox said that he has not spoken with Shea for “a number of weeks.”

Matt Shea controversy

Shea has received heavy criticism after a series of headlines. A “manifesto” he wrote was uncovered in November 2018, in which he laid out a “Biblical basis for war.” That basis included killing all males of your enemy if they embraced communism, homosexuality, or abortion. It stated that a tyrant is someone who rules without God and that assassinating a tyrant is just, and not murder.

Shea responded to the controversy by arguing the document was merely Bible study notes. He was removed from positions of leadership within the state Republican party shortly after.

But that wasn’t his last controversy. Shea came under fire when the Guardian posted private chats he had with three other men who allegedly discussed surveillance of Spokane-area liberals. While Shea did not personally discuss violence, the chat thread did include talk of taking violent acts against political opposition. This report is what primarily spurred the current investigation.

Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has also publicly warned about Shea. The sheriff told the Jason Rantz Show in April that he has taken many reports on Shea from the public; people who allege he has had them watched after they expressed opposition to his views. The sheriff has turned such reports over to the FBI.

“He does not represent the values of the Republican Party, nor the values of the people who he represents,” Sheriff Knezovich told Rantz in April. “I am so tired of hearing people say ‘Ya know, he votes the way I want him to. I don’t care about his character.’ Well folks, if you don’t start caring about people’s character who you elect, this republic is doomed.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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