WA Rep. Shea refuses to resign amidst allegations of domestic terrorism
Many state lawmakers want Rep. Matt Shea to resign after an independent investigation alleged he engaged in domestic terrorism, but expelling him from the Legislature could end up being a tougher sell.
Incoming Washington House Speaker Laurie Jinkins has been clear about what she believes Shea’s future in Olympia should look like, but at the APs legislative preview session, she was also realistic about the obstacles.
“I cannot expel him without a super-majority vote — I don’t know who this is going to end up,” she noted.
A recent House report alleges that Shea, as a leader in the Patriot Movement, “planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside of Washington over a three-year period.”
The report further alleges Shea engaged in armed conflict at Bunkerville, Nevada in April 2014, the conflict at Priest River, Idaho in 2015, engaged in calls and planning of the 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and met with refuge armed occupiers in Burns, Oregon.
On the Republican side, minority leader J.T. Wilcox is resolute about the need for Shea to resign, and stands by suspending him from the caucus, but without a criminal conviction. That being said, he also doesn’t completely stand behind a full expulsion from the Legislature, instead putting the decision to Shea’s own district.
“It’s up to the voters to decide who’s in the chamber,” said Rep. Wilcox, pointing out that the only expulsion in the state’s 130 year history came when a lawmaker had been convicted of a crime.
If he’s not expelled, Shea would be up for reelection before the end of his term in January 2021. All indications from his office suggest he plans on pursuing that path.
“I have been falsely accused of being a ‘domestic terrorist’ by a private investigator who never spoke to the principals involved in the incidents she described and relied instead on anonymous sources,” Shea outlined in a recently-released statement.
“I look forward to continuing to represent the people of my district,” he added.
This isn’t the first time Shea has been in hot water. Just before he was re-elected in 2018, he came under scrutiny before for a Biblical “manifesto,” relating it to racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric common with white nationalists. The document talked about how to wage a war according to points found in the Bible. It described a holy army that should first offer peace, but “kill all males” if that peace is rejected. It also notes that a “tyrant” is someone who rules without God, and says assassinating a tyrant is just and not murder.
Shortly after that, he was removed from his Republican leadership role in Olympia. With this latest report alleging he committed acts of possible domestic terrorism, he’s been removed from the Republican caucus altogether.
MyNorthwest staff contributed to this report