NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Matt Shea is leaving the Legislature. Are his wings clipped, or is he now unrestrained?

One of the most notable imme­di­ate out­comes of this week’s can­di­date fil­ing in Wash­ing­ton state was the absence of mil­i­tant Matt Shea of Spokane Val­ley, who has occu­pied a posi­tion in the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture for over a decade.

Before his first elec­tion, Shea was a co-founder and direc­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion, a zeal­ous right wing advo­ca­cy group that merged with the Fam­i­ly Pol­i­cy Insti­tute of Wash­ing­ton, which is an affil­i­ate Focus on the Fam­i­ly, the Fam­i­ly Research Insti­tute and the Alliance Defense Fund, all focused on pol­i­cy and reli­gious lib­er­ty as per­ceived by rad­i­cal right wing Christians.

Start­ing in 2009, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea became a peri­od­ic guest on Alex Jones’ Infowars, and fur­ther cul­ti­vat­ed his rela­tion­ships with the rad­i­cal right through as many oth­er out­lets as possible.

As a result of these rela­tion­ships, he has both devel­oped a close rela­tion­ship with and is alleged­ly a mem­ber of both the Oath Keep­ers and Lib­er­ty for All III%.

In Novem­ber of 2011, he pulled a firearm from a glove com­part­ment dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with anoth­er motorist that was report­ed by the police lat­er as a road rage inci­dent. Shea was even­tu­al­ly charged with pos­ses­sion of a loaded firearm in a vehi­cle with­out a con­cealed weapon per­mit, which he had let expire.

He paid a fine and the charge was even­tu­al­ly dropped in return for hav­ing com­mit­ted no fur­ther crim­i­nal vio­la­tions over the course of a year.

Shea has pre­vi­ous­ly been accused of destruc­tive, unac­cept­able behav­ior – dur­ing divorce pro­ceed­ings from his first wife, which was grant­ed in Jan­u­ary of 2008, she request­ed mul­ti­ple restrain­ing orders because of alleged prob­lems with con­trol­ling his tem­per, and fur­ther alleged that he had been relieved of his weapon at one point while serv­ing in the mil­i­tary in Iraq.

In 2015, at a demon­stra­tion for gun rights on the steps of the Capi­tol, Shea declared that Ini­tia­tive 594, which required back­ground checks on pri­vate pur­chas­es of firearms, and which had been passed over­whelm­ing­ly by the vot­ers the pre­vi­ous Novem­ber, was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. He intro­duced leg­is­la­tion which would inval­i­date or sig­nif­i­cant­ly weak­en it, but each of his attempts failed.

In April of that same year, Matt Shea tried to twist to his advan­tage the fly­ing of the flag of the People’s Repub­lic of Chi­na at the Capi­tol as a diplo­mat­ic cour­tesy when Chi­nese ambas­sador Cui Tiana­ka paid a cour­tesy call on Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

In August of that same year, at a demon­stra­tion against Planned Par­ent­hood in North Spokane, he said “There is no dif­fer­ence between Planned Par­ent­hood, and what Dr. Josef Men­gele did in Ger­many in the 1940s.”

To round out the year, he par­tic­i­pat­ed in a demon­stra­tion against a recog­ni­tion by the Spokane City Coun­cil of local Mus­lim con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­ni­ty, link­ing CAIR (the Coun­cil on Amer­i­­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions) to sharia law and its incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty with the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Unit­ed States.

2016 began with the occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge and Shea’s inter­ven­tion and involve­ment in it, not the least of which, lat­er in the year, was pre­sent­ing par­tic­i­pant in the occu­pa­tion and con­tro­ver­sial local guns rights activist Antho­ny Bosworth with an annu­al Patri­ot of the Year award. (Shea was lat­er cleared of a result­ing ethics com­plaint for his inter­ven­tion in the occupation.)

It con­tin­ued with accu­sa­tions by Shea, which result­ed in a law­suit in 2017 that was even­tu­al­ly set­tled qui­et­ly in 2019, that the firearm of a deputy sher­iff with­in the office of Spokane Coun­ty Sher­iff Ozzie Kne­zovich had links to Roy Mur­ray, some­one who had recent­ly com­mit­ted a triple homicide.

It closed with Shea, McCaslin and Tay­lor re-ini­ti­at­ing a long called for effort to split Wash­ing­ton state in two and cre­ate the new state of Lib­er­ty. (The idea of a white nation­al­ist state made up of var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of por­tions of Ida­ho, Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and even Cal­i­for­nia has a long his­to­ry and very deep roots.)

On July 11th, 2018, James All­sup, a for­mer leader of the Col­lege Repub­li­cans at Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty, a par­tic­i­pant in the “Unite the Right” white suprema­cist ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia in August of 2017, and some­one affil­i­at­ed with the white suprema­cist group Iden­ti­ty Evropa, gave a talk at a meet­ing of North­west Grass­roots, a con­ser­v­a­tive group close­ly affil­i­at­ed with Shea, which is at odds with more estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans in the greater Spokane area.

The event even­tu­al­ly led to the res­ig­na­tion of Spokane Coun­ty Repub­li­can Chair Ceci­ly Wright, who ini­tial­ly defend­ed All­sup, and two oth­er mem­bers of their cen­tral com­mit­tee, Vitaliy Mak­ismov and Abi­gail Osborne.

In Octo­ber of 2018, Rolling Stone pub­lished an arti­cle regard­ing Matt Shea, pro­vid­ing him with nation­al exposure.

Also in late Octo­ber 2018, Shea was found to have dis­trib­uted a man­i­festo titled The Bib­li­cal Basis for War, which he ini­tial­ly declared was an out­line for a ser­mon regard­ing war dur­ing the peri­od of the Old Tes­ta­ment in the Bible.

It had been received by an indi­vid­ual in August and was even­tu­al­ly hand­ed over to the FBI by Sher­iff Kne­zovich, who made his opin­ions clear. “The doc­u­ment Mr. Shea wrote is not a Sun­day school project or an aca­d­e­m­ic study… It is a ‘how to’ man­u­al con­sis­tent with the ide­ol­o­gy and oper­at­ing phi­los­o­phy of the Chris­t­ian Identity/Aryan Nations move­ment and the Redoubt move­ment of the 1990s.”

(A sec­ond doc­u­ment, “Restora­tion,” focus­ing on how to cre­ate a new soci­ety after a cat­a­stroph­ic event, was made known in 2019 – Shea has not respond­ed to requests to affirm or deny the doc­u­ment as his.)

On Novem­ber 1st, 2018, the FBI opened an inves­ti­ga­tion regard­ing the first man­i­festo. On Novem­ber 26th, 2018, Shea was removed from his posi­tion as Repub­li­can House Cau­cus Chair.

In April of 2019, an arti­cle in The Guardian declared that Shea had tak­en part in a pri­vate inter­net chat in 2017, in response to fears of an “Antifa revolt” that nev­er hap­pened, with three known mem­bers of the local rad­i­cal right, dis­cussing sur­veil­lance, psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions (“psy­ops”) and vio­lent attacks on local indi­vid­u­als they con­sid­ered dangerous.

One of the par­tic­i­pants in the chat was Antho­ny Bosworth. Shea did not dis­suade the oth­er par­tic­i­pants from the direc­tion in which their con­ver­sa­tion went, and at one point offered to per­form back­ground checks on request.

On May 3rd, 2019, fifty-six Democ­rats signed a let­ter, sent to House Repub­li­can leader J. T. Wilcox, ref­er­enc­ing the points made in the April 2019 Guardian arti­cle. They demand­ed that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea be rep­ri­mand­ed pub­licly, removed from his posi­tion as rank­ing minor­i­ty mem­ber of the House Com­mit­tee on Envi­ron­ment & Ener­gy, and declared that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Speak­er of the House would ini­ti­ate an inde­pen­dent House inves­ti­ga­tion into the matter.

Less than a week lat­er, The Guardian high­light­ed Shea’s appear­ance on the Prep­per Recon pod­cast in 2018. Prep­per Recon is host­ed by Mark Good­win, who authored the Eco­nom­ic Col­lapse Chron­i­cles, a work of con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian post-apoc­­olyp­ic fic­tion which starts with “Pres­i­dent Al Mohammed’s” Amer­i­ca being denied by the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund from future bor­row­ing of funds.

Shea pro­mot­ed the con­cept of the Amer­i­can Redoubt, repeat­ed his expec­ta­tion of a sec­ond civ­il war, and ref­er­enced well known cap­i­tal­ist and right wing bogey­man George Soros as a fun­der of orga­ni­za­tions he con­sid­ers un-American.

In July of 2019, Shea was the sub­ject of an episode of Bundyville, Revis­it­ed, the sec­ond sea­son of the Bundyville col­lab­o­ra­tion between Ore­gon Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing and Lon­greads, which used the occu­pa­tion and stand­off at the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge head­quar­ters near Burns, Ore­gon in 2016 as a jump­ing off point to dis­cuss the polit­i­cal infra­struc­ture of the rad­i­cal right in the “Dry West,” which includes east­ern Washington.

The episode ref­er­enced Shea speak­ing at the Mar­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Fel­low­ship, a Domin­ion­ist “Chris­t­ian covenant com­mu­ni­ty” led by pas­tor Bri­an Byrd.

Domin­ion­ism is a phi­los­o­phy that believes that Chris­tians should “have domin­ion” over all Amer­i­can polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al institutions.

(What is often left unsaid is that these Chris­tians should have a very con­ser­v­a­tive, lit­er­al inter­pre­ta­tion of the Bible; that the Ten Com­mand­ments should be the basis of Amer­i­can law. What is also often left unsaid is that Domin­ion­ism is increas­ing­ly blend­ed with Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty and oth­er forms of racism and white nationalism.)

In June of 2019, Shea host­ed dis­graced right wing ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er turned guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tim Eyman on his right wing radio show. Dur­ing the appear­ance, Eyman pro­mot­ed an ini­tia­tive to repeal mod­est rev­enue reforms that had just been approved by the state Leg­is­la­ture, lav­ished praise on Shea, and spoke glow­ing­ly of Shea’s activ­i­ties, say­ing to Shea: “You’re awesome.”

On July 29, 2019, the Chief Clerk of the House announced that it hired hired an out­side firm, The Ram­part Group, led by a for­mer mem­ber of the FBI, Kathy Leodler, to “deter­mine whether Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea was engaged in, planned or pro­mot­ed polit­i­cal vio­lence against groups or indi­vid­u­als,” deter­mine the extent to which Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea was involved if so engaged, and assess the lev­el of threat of such groups or individuals.

In August of 2019, The Guardian revealed that emails from July of 2016 revealed that Shea, for a group called Team Rugged, led by Patrick Caugh­ran, offered vis­i­bil­i­ty through his Face­book page and facil­i­tat­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion between them and Jack Robert­son, also known as “John Jacob Schmidt.”

Robert­son hosts the white nation­al­ist pod­cast Radio Free Redoubt, which advo­cates for lis­ten­ers to move to the “Amer­i­can Redoubt” in east­ern Wash­ing­ton, Ida­ho and Mon­tana, and, with Shea, cam­paigns for east­ern Wash­ing­ton to secede and form its own state, Liberty.

In one of the emails, Gaugh­ran told Shea that Team Rugged exist­ed “to pro­vide patri­ot­ic and bib­li­cal train­ing on war for young men.”

Caugh­ran also not­ed that the “bib­li­cal teach­ing” would come at least in part from pas­tor John Weaver, once a lead­ing mem­ber of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens, a hate group that oppos­es inter­ra­cial mar­riage and has described black peo­ple as a “ret­ro­grade species of humanity.”

Weaver is also a firearms instruc­tor that has trained mem­bers of The League of the South in firearms train­ing; the group par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Char­lottesville white suprema­cist ral­ly. One of the execu­tors (and an instruc­tor) of Team Rugged is pas­tor Bri­an Byrd of the Mar­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Fellowship.

Also in August, Matt Shea was specif­i­cal­ly asked not to attend a meet­ing of the Spokane Com­plete Count Com­mit­tee, an alliance of local groups deter­mined to improve the count of under­rep­re­sent­ed groups for the 2020 Cen­sus, due to many indi­vid­u­als’ dis­com­fort with him and his close rela­tion­ships with groups anti­thet­i­cal to what they stand for. (Shea had not planned to attend.)

On August 23rd, 2019, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea’s leg­isla­tive assis­tant, Rene’ Hola­day, was fired by the Chief Clerk’s Office of the state leg­is­la­ture for par­tic­i­pat­ing in a May event on behalf of pro­mot­ing the state of Liberty.

At it, she claimed that increas­ing num­bers of Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors were sup­port­ing the idea as a result of recent suc­cess­ful leg­is­la­tion by Democ­rats, stat­ing, “They actu­al­ly even said — and it was­n’t even Shea that said this, they said this on their own — ‘It’s either going to be blood­shed or Lib­er­ty State.’ Take that to heart.”

On Octo­ber 10th, 2019, a video made pub­lic by the John Birch Soci­ety’s media out­let, the New Amer­i­can, made clear his pref­er­ence for Domin­ion­ism and his hatred of both Islam and of Muslims.

On Decem­ber 19th, 2019, the results of the inves­ti­ga­tion by the Ram­part Group were released. The report con­clud­ed that:

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive 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 (US) Gov­ern­ment in three states out­side the State of Wash­ing­ton over a three year peri­od to include 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Shea, with mem­bers of COWS and Ammon Bundy, were found to have planned and orga­nized the 2016 Mahleur occu­pa­tion and standoff.

Per­haps the most damn­ing state­ment in the report was:

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea is an attor­ney and mem­ber of the Bar of the State of Wash­ing­ton and pre­sum­ably has knowl­edge of and access to avenues to peace­ful­ly redress griev­ances through the courts but chose to lead his fol­low­ers to stand in phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion at risk of blood­shed and loss of life.

The next day, House Repub­li­can lead­ers expelled Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Shea from their cau­cus. Minor­i­ty Leader J. T. Wilcox declared: “His role as a House Repub­li­can is over.” Shea respond­ed on Face­book, stat­ing “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. Stand strong, fel­low Patriots.”

At the end of 2019, Shea was laid off from the law firm M. Casey Law, where he had worked for sev­en years. Shea start­ed an indi­vid­ual practice.

In Feb­ru­ary of 2020, House Democ­rats cir­cu­lat­ed a let­ter call­ing for the expul­sion of Shea from the state Leg­is­la­ture because of his engage­ment in the plan­ning and pro­mot­ing of polit­i­cal vio­lence. Repub­li­cans refused to endorse the idea, which would have required at least nine of them to join forces with Democrats.

The pan­dem­ic has seem­ing­ly made Shea even more para­noid and bitter.

Shea has pub­licly wor­ried that Gov­er­nor Inslee would use the Nation­al Guard to enforce his orders and enact mar­tial law.

He’s echoed com­ments by oth­ers that the COVID-19 virus was cre­at­ed in a Chi­nese “bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­gram,” and has fret­ted that peo­ple would be forcibly inoc­u­lat­ed when and if a vac­cine becomes available.

He also hasn’t been hap­py with the cre­ation of the West­ern States Pact and its mid-Atlantic equiv­a­lent, con­sid­er­ing them first steps toward seces­sion from the Unit­ed States and an attempt to under­mine Don­ald Trump.

Shea has spo­ken at demon­stra­tions in Olympia on the Capi­tol Cam­pus against Gov­er­nor Inslee’s stay home, stay healthy orders, with his favorite phrase being “Free­dom is the cure,” with which he’s led in chants.

He’s pub­licly sup­port­ed the com­ments of Jason Kin­ley, the newest mem­ber of the Spokane Region­al District’s Board of Health, who has said, among oth­er things, that there is “no wide­ly accept­ed treat­ment” for any exist­ing virus (which ignores med­ica­tions and tar­get­ed antivi­ral treat­ments that have suc­cess­ful­ly coun­tered oth­er virus­es), that hydrox­y­chloro­quine shouldn’t be dis­missed as a treat­ment for COVID-19 suf­fer­ers, and that high dosages of Vit­a­min C should also be con­sid­ered as a treatment.

Shea seems obsessed with trail­ers as indi­ca­tors of future con­cen­tra­tion camps, as can be seen on his Face­book page – a pho­to of an iso­la­tion camp in Gold­en­dale for COVID-19 suf­fer­ers was respond­ed to with “Vol­un­tary until they are not.”

And then there is the olive oil incident.

On March 6th, a group from Seattle’s Satan­ic Tem­ple of Wash­ing­ton walked through and around the Capi­tol build­ing, per­form­ing what they called an “invo­ca­tion.” They had request­ed and received a per­mit to do so.

They were asked to change their route slight­ly, to min­i­mize poten­tial dam­age to the Capi­tol build­ing and grounds. They did so.

Shea’s response was a small gath­er­ing of of his sup­port­ers lat­er in the day, with­out request­ing a per­mit to do so before­hand. They prayed out loud, sang, and a few of the group blew from sho­fars, made from ram’s horns.

They then walked rough­ly along the same path as the first group, through and out of the Capi­tol build­ing, pour­ing olive oil on the sand­stone blocks that form the walk­way, the mar­ble Capi­tol steps and the side­walk. This turned out to have been a sec­ond attempt, as some­one from the Wash­ing­ton state Depart­ment of Enter­prise Ser­vices (DES) took away Shea’s first bot­tle of olive oil.

DES after­ward charged Shea $4,761 for the cost of clean­ing up the result­ing mess and min­i­miz­ing dam­age most espe­cial­ly to the porous sandstone.

Olive oil tra­di­tion­al­ly has a rela­tion­ship in the Bible to the anoint­ing of priests via the book of Exo­dus. In the Catholic and with­in spe­cif­ic Protes­tant denom­i­na­tions, specif­i­cal­ly blessed oils can be used to con­se­crate an altar or ded­i­cate a church.

Giv­en that both Shea and his sup­port­ers at this event were all like­ly Domin­ion­ists, and thus desire a theo­crat­ic gov­ern­ment and soci­ety over which they would rule, they most like­ly believed that their pres­ence as “true” Chris­tians, their prayers and calls to God with their sho­fars, was enough to bless the olive oil they used.

Shea hasn’t yet com­ment­ed on why he declined to run for anoth­er term, and will like­ly dis­cuss it only on terms he finds to his advantage.

He has lit­tle love for the Spokane States­­man-Review or the Inlan­der, who have brought unwel­come atten­tion to his destruc­tive activities.

He has his own pod­cast, Patri­ot Radio, as part of the Amer­i­can Chris­t­ian Net­work, from which he’ll craft what­ev­er mes­sage he prefers with­out pesky questions.

There are rumors that he might sup­port for­mer Lib­er­tar­i­an (and now present­ly Repub­li­can) Bob Chase in his race to unseat Cathy McMor­ris Rogers, as Chase has been vocal of his sup­port for Shea since his expul­sion, and Shea had sup­port­ed Chase in a run for Spokane Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er, which had failed.

Regard­less, Shea will still have his net­work of rabid mil­i­tant fol­low­ers. He could use his solo legal prac­tice to file friv­o­lous law­suits against peo­ple and enti­ties he does not like. Or he could use his noto­ri­ety to become a more promi­nent media per­son­al­i­ty, like Alex Jones or Fox’s Lau­ra Ingraham.

He may be leav­ing office, but he will remain a men­ace that needs to be countered.

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