Report: Washington GOP lawmaker connected allies with ‘biblical warfare’ group

Aug 14, 2019, 7:39 AM
Matt shea...
Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A new report details explosive allegations regarding Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, claiming he helped allies link up with a group that trains young men in “biblical warfare.”

According to The Guardian, that training pertained to the use of knives and guns, and lessons based on the teachings of neo-Confederate pastor John Weaver. Weaver has been known to oppose interracial marriage, and holds close ties to the League of the South, who were among those at the infamous 2017 “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally.

Shea’s involvement was detailed in emails from 2016 acquired by The Guardian, where he was contacted by man named Patrick Caughran, the self-described founder of a group known as “Team Rugged.”

Team Rugged publicly identifies itself as “a Christian organization that strongly believes in building manly character and the capability to stand in adversity in young men.” Caughran’s emails with Shea paint a different picture, stating that its purpose is “to provide patriotic and biblical training on war for young men.”

He goes on to outline how Team Rugged adheres to “biblical teaching (some taken from pastor John Weaver’s work).”

“So that our young men will be better prepared to fight against physical enemies, and to do so, God’s way and with His blessing,” he describes.

Caughran goes on to ask that Shea plug the group’s Facebook page, and connect him with Shea’s associate and right wing podcaster Jack Robertson. Robertson and Shea are both ardent advocates of the Eastern Washington secession movement, with Shea co-sponsoring secession legislation back in 2016.

Eastern Washington is threatening to split from state

Shea responded to Caughran, promising to promote Team Rugged’s Facebook page. He then forwarded the exchange to Robertson, telling Caughran that “he wants to connect with you.”

As of publishing, Team Rugged’s Facebook appears to no longer be active.

Recent trouble for Shea

Shea has been no stranger to finding himself in hot water in recent months. In early August, the Washington State House tagged a former FBI agent to lead a formal investigation into the Spokane representative.

That investigation was commissioned to determine whether Shea has engaged in or promoted political violence, and also to look into any alleged connections between the politician and groups engaging in political violence. It also seeks to assess the level of threat posed by such groups. The investigation is budgeted for $120,000.

Shea previously 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.

Democrats urge reprimand of state Rep. Shea

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.

Republican 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, from 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.

We have reached out to Shea’s representatives for a comment on this most recent story and have yet to get a response.

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Report: Washington GOP lawmaker connected allies with ‘biblical warfare’ group