Matt Shea
Gov. Jay Inslee delivers his State of the State Address during the Joint Legislative Session, January 12, 2016.

Mil­i­tant extrem­ist Matt Shea of Spokane Val­ley — who rep­re­sents the 4th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives — has been in the news a lot late­ly as media orga­ni­za­tions con­tin­ue to delve deep­er into his dis­turb­ing activ­i­ties and the House offi­cial­ly inves­ti­gates whether he has “has engaged in, planned, or pro­mot­ed polit­i­cal vio­lence against groups or individuals.”

If you’ve nev­er heard of Matt Shea before, here’s what you need to know.

Shea is a fun­da­men­tal­ist reli­gious zealot with vio­lent ten­den­cies who has a long his­to­ry of bad behav­ior. He was first elect­ed to the state Leg­is­la­ture eleven years ago and has been con­tin­u­ous­ly reelect­ed since in his solid­ly Repub­li­can district.

And that’s despite all of this:

He pulled a gun in a road rage con­fronta­tion. He called the tax audit of Ida­ho Rep. Phil Hart “bureau­crat­ic ter­ror­ism.” He riffed with Alex Jones about FEMA camp con­spir­a­cies. He encour­aged peo­ple to stock up on ammo to use on loot­ers when soci­ety inevitably collapses.

He flew down to Neva­da to cheer­lead the Bundy Ranch stand­off.  He sent a “secu­ri­ty expert” named Antho­ny Bosworth — who had ear­li­er been arrest­ed for bring­ing an AK-style rifle to the fed­er­al cour­t­house — down to help the armed occu­piers of the Ore­gon wildlife refuge.

He repeat­ed­ly refus­es to answer ques­tions from the local news­pa­pers, refer­ring to them as the “Social­ist-Review” and the “Ins­lan­der.”

Most fright­en­ing of all, though, was the rev­e­la­tion that Shea had authored and dis­trib­uted a doc­u­ment called “Bib­li­cal Basis for War”, which appears to jus­ti­fy vio­lence against any­one who dis­agrees with right wing fun­da­men­tal­ist ideology.

“The doc­u­ment is orga­nized in four­teen sec­tions with mul­ti­ple tiers of bul­let points and a smat­ter­ing of bib­li­cal cita­tions,” The Spokesman-Review report­ed. “Under one head­ing, ‘Rules of War,’ it makes a chill­ing pre­scrip­tion for ene­mies who flout ‘bib­li­cal law.’ It states, ‘If they do not yield – kill all males.’”

Shea has admit­ted to dis­trib­ut­ing the document.

Shea was for­mer­ly the Chair of the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus in Olympia, but after his involve­ment in the cir­cu­la­tion of “Bib­li­cal Basis for War” was revealed, the House Repub­li­cans qui­et­ly removed him from that post.

Ear­li­er this year, The Guardian report­ed that Shea “took part in pri­vate dis­cus­sions with right wing fig­ures about car­ry­ing out sur­veil­lance, ‘psy­ops’ and even vio­lent attacks on per­ceived polit­i­cal ene­mies.” Read their report here.

In August, The Guardian fol­lowed up with a new report reveal­ing that Shea “con­nect­ed close allies with a group offer­ing train­ing to young men in ‘bib­li­cal war­fare’ that includes how to use knives, pis­tols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teach­ings of a Geor­gia-based neo-Con­fed­er­ate pastor.”

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty and its top brass have pret­ty much kept mum in the wake of the rev­e­la­tions about Shea’s activ­i­ties, nei­ther offer­ing a defense of Shea nor con­demn­ing his despi­ca­ble behav­ior, though Spokane Coun­ty Sher­iff Ozzie Kne­zovich (a Repub­li­can) has offered force­ful denunciations.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, on the oth­er hand, has open­ly called for action, say­ing that Shea is unfit for pub­lic office. The par­ty’s Advo­ca­cy Com­mit­tee (which I chair) has rec­om­mend­ed that the expul­sion of Shea be a leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ty in 2020 and the par­ty is call­ing upon Shea’s cor­po­rate sup­port­ers to retract their sup­port through a Can­cel Matt Shea cam­paign that launched today.

Sev­er­al com­pa­nies and lob­by­ing asso­ci­a­tions have already stat­ed that they will not be mak­ing any fur­ther con­tri­bu­tions to Shea, includ­ing Boe­ing, All­state, and the Wash­ing­ton State Hos­pi­tal Asso­ci­a­tion. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is call­ing on Shea’s oth­er cor­po­rate sup­port­ers to fol­low suit immediately.

The busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty may be pulling away from Shea, but he still enjoys strong sup­port from the pro-Trump Repub­li­can rank and file in Wash­ing­ton State as well as promi­nent Repub­li­can activists. Shea hosts a pod­cast called Patri­ot Radio that com­bines fun­da­men­tal­ist ram­blings with inter­views of like-mind­ed souls.

In June of this year, Shea had dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman on to talk about Ini­tia­tive 1648, a mea­sure that Eyman was pro­mot­ing at the time to reverse the rev­enue reforms adopt­ed by the 2019 Wash­ing­ton State Legislature.

I‑1648 sub­se­quent­ly failed to qual­i­fy for the bal­lot.

Not long after, the “Lib­er­ty State” extrem­ists who had helped Eyman with sig­na­ture gath­er­ing for I‑1648 had a pub­lic falling out with him.

But before those events, Eyman was invit­ed to come on Shea’s pro­gram and pro­mote his var­i­ous schemes, includ­ing I‑1648 and I‑976.

At the end of the inter­view, Eyman offered a full-throat­ed endorse­ment of Shea and his pol­i­tics. Here’s a tran­script of their exchange:

TIM EYMAN: I am so grate­ful, man. And Matt: Thank you so much for hav­ing me on. You’re just a hero down in Olympia.

And [yours is] just one of the few voic­es down there that has­n’t got­ten Stock­holm syn­drome iden­ti­fy­ing with your cap­tors. That you’re so will­ing to fight the good fight, even when you don’t have the num­bers in par­ty, but you’ve got that, you know, you’ve got the right ideas and the right prin­ci­ples on your side.

[Eyman pro­vides his con­tact infor­ma­tion for Shea’s listeners]

We hope you join in and help us get that on the ballot.

MATT SHEA: Tim Eyman. Thank you. Per­ma­nent Offense. I love that. I’m going to men­tion it any­ways — Per­ma­nent Offense — because we should be on per­ma­nent offense.

TIM EYMAN: We should be on per­ma­nent offense.

MATT SHEA: The truth is … the truth is behind us, right? So hey, thanks for join­ing me on Patri­ot Radio today.

God bless you and keep up the fight.

TIM EYMAN: You too, man. You’re awesome.

MATT SHEA: All right, so Tim Eyman. And once again… give them noth­ing dot com. What a great web­site [Shea utters an evil laugh]. Give them not one red cent more. Not one more cent.

Pre­fer to lis­ten to the Eyman-Shea love­fest? Here’s an audio clip.

Here at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, we have been work­ing to counter the tox­ic pol­i­tics of agents of destruc­tion like Tim Eyman and Matt Shea for over sev­en­teen years through our Per­ma­nent Defense project. (Per­ma­nent Defense is so named because Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry, which was orig­i­nal­ly named Per­ma­nent Offense and now is again, requires year round opposition.)

You can sup­port our work by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute or mak­ing a one-time dona­tion to sup­port our work.

Your con­tri­bu­tion will enable us to con­tin­ue defend­ing Cas­ca­dia from the harms that Eyman, Shea, Don­ald Trump and oth­ers seek to inflict on those who do not share their extreme, mil­i­tant, white suprema­cist ideology.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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