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

Yes­ter­day, the Wash­ing­ton State House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship belat­ed­ly took action against their for­mer cau­cus chair Matt Shea, a mil­i­tant extrem­ist who House inves­ti­ga­tors have con­firmed is a domes­tic ter­ror­ist involved in plan­ning and pro­mot­ing polit­i­cal vio­lence. Evi­dence of Shea’s trea­so­nous activ­i­ties and his pro­cliv­i­ty for vio­lence was already in the pub­lic domain, but it took the release of a report pre­pared by for­mer FBI agents to spur House Repub­li­cans to final­ly act.

“Based on evi­dence obtained in this inves­ti­ga­tion, it is more prob­a­ble than not that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea is like­ly to plan, direct, and engage in addi­tion­al future con­flicts that could car­ry with them sig­nif­i­cant risk of blood­shed and loss of life. It is the pro­fes­sion­al opin­ion of the Inves­ti­ga­tors, that on a more prob­a­ble than not basis, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea presents a present and grow­ing threat of risk to oth­ers through polit­i­cal vio­lence,” the report declares. (Empha­sis is mine.)

“Mem­bers of our cau­cus received the report regard­ing Rep. Shea a short while ago,” Speak­er-des­ig­nate Lau­rie Jink­ins said Thurs­day after­noon. “In its one hun­dred and thir­ty year his­to­ry, I am unaware of House mem­bers ever hav­ing received such a com­pre­hen­sive and dis­turb­ing inves­ti­ga­to­ry report about anoth­er mem­ber. It is impor­tant we review the full report pri­or to deter­min­ing what action the House may take, and are still need­ing time to read and digest the findings.”

“We under­stand the House Repub­li­cans have start­ed steps to take action, and we will con­tin­ue to work with them as we explore all options avail­able to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Because of the seri­ous­ness of the find­ings, the Chief Clerk’s Office has for­ward­ed the report to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI.”

“We respect Shea’s right to free speech and his per­son­al beliefs, but those ideals are not what this is about. This is about a state law­mak­er who, accord­ing to the inves­tiga­tive find­ings, engaged in an act of domes­tic ter­ror­ism rather than choos­ing polit­i­cal or legal avenues to change laws and poli­cies he dis­agrees with.”

“This is why we believe for­mal action needs to be tak­en that sends a clear mes­sage uphold­ing the val­ues of a free and demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety, and sup­ports the safe­ty of all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans,” Jink­ins’ state­ment concluded.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Shea has been sus­pend­ed from any role in the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus. He should resign. He can­not use House Repub­li­can staff, he can­not meet with the cau­cus, his office will be moved,” House Repub­li­can Leader J.T. Wilcox declared in a tweet post­ed at 4:18 PM Pacif­ic Time yes­ter­day.

Hours lat­er, Shea made it abun­dant­ly clear he has no inten­tion of resigning.

“Like we are see­ing with our Pres­i­dent this is a sham inves­ti­ga­tion meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to dis­arm and destroy our great coun­try. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign,” Shea wrote in a Face­book post. “Stand strong fel­low Patri­ots. Thank you to every­one for the mas­sive out­pour­ing of sup­port prayers! I will con­tin­ue to defend the con­sti­tu­tion against tyran­ny and fight to pro­tect our God giv­en unalien­able rights to life, lib­er­ty, prop­er­ty, and the abil­i­ty to defend the same.”

Shea’s response is not sur­pris­ing. Since he will not resign, it’s very impor­tant that he be expelled from the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. His expul­sion would cre­ate a vacan­cy that would then need to be filled, which would hope­ful­ly result in the appoint­ment of a Repub­li­can who does­n’t share Shea’s mil­i­tant fun­da­men­tal­ist ide­ol­o­gy and vio­lent proclivities.

Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 9 of the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion provides:

SECTION 9 RULES OF PROCEDURE. Each house may deter­mine the rules of its own pro­ceed­ings, pun­ish for con­tempt and dis­or­der­ly behav­ior, and, with the con­cur­rence of two-thirds of all the mem­bers elect­ed, expel a mem­ber, but no mem­ber shall be expelled a sec­ond time for the same offense.

The thresh­old for expul­sion is a two-thirds vote. The House Democ­rats could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly sup­ply fifty-sev­en of the six­ty-six votes need­ed to expel Shea, but they would need at least nine House Repub­li­cans to join them.

The ball is thus in J.T. Wilcox’s court. He has now belat­ed­ly sus­pend­ed Shea from the cau­cus and called for Shea’s res­ig­na­tion, but that’s not good enough.

Wilcox now needs to sup­ply the votes to enable Shea’s expulsion.

Shea should not be in the House, peri­od. A man who plots against his own coun­try should not serve in elect­ed office at any lev­el. Shea belongs in prison, not in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. If Shea is expelled and replaced, it will decrease the like­li­hood of his win­ning anoth­er term in the Leg­is­la­ture next year because the posi­tion he cur­rent­ly occu­pies would go to some­one else.

If Shea is not expelled and does not resign, he would remain an incum­bent through the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Wash­ing­ton’s 4th Leg­isla­tive District.

An expul­sion — which would require a bipar­ti­san vote of the House — would send a need­ed and appro­pri­ate mes­sage that polit­i­cal vio­lence and threats of vio­lence will not be tol­er­at­ed in the great State of Wash­ing­ton. A fail­ure to expel Shea, on the oth­er hand, would send the oppo­site mes­sage, giv­en what’s known about him.

Pub­lic radio’s Austin Jenk­ins has authored per­haps the most com­pre­hen­sive take on the release of the House-com­mis­sioned report on Shea’s activ­i­ties. It’s worth read­ing because it con­cise­ly sum­ma­rizes a lot of infor­ma­tion and presents it coher­ent­ly. Read it to ful­ly appre­ci­ate the dan­ger that Shea represents.

If you’d like to read the full one hun­dred and eight page report com­mis­sioned and released by the House, it is below. It is a long read and con­tains a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of ref­er­ences. The report was pre­pared by Kathy and Paul Leodler, Senior Inves­ti­ga­tors with the Ram­part Group. Shea refused to par­tic­i­pate in the inves­ti­ga­tion, but a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple who have first­hand knowl­edge of his activ­i­ties did par­tic­i­pate and were inter­viewed by the investigators.

State House Report on Matt Shea

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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