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