Spokane Valley lawmaker Matt Shea criticized for recently published past messages

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By EMMA EPPERLY Staff Writer

OLYMPIA - Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea, received criticism after messages, in which there were discussions of violence and surveillance, between the representative and a group of other “right wing” figures were published by The Guardian on Saturday.

The group reportedly used screen aliases and discussed violence against “Antifa” leftists, along with surveillance. The conversation took place in November 2017, ahead of a supposed “Antifa revolt.” While Shea did not propose violence, he did not condemn the ideas. Shea discussed background checks on Spokane residents, but specifics of how these background checks would be conducted are not discussed in the published messages.

The other members of the chat, who have been identified as Jack Robertson, who broadcasts a far-right radio show called “Radio Free Redoubt,” and Anthony Bosworth, who has had several public altercations in the past.

Senate Minority Leader, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, did not comment on the situation, saying, as of Monday, he hadn’t fully researched the issue. Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, also did not comment. Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, did not comment either, saying “stuff like that is not a priority.”

Gov. Jay Inslee said Shea’s “history of hate has crossed a new line,” in a statement on Monday. Inslee condemned both Shea’s rhetoric and behavior calling it “a strain of extreme ideology.”

“I will continue to fight to protect the Constitution, my family, and my community. I will not back down. I will not quit. I will not give in. Ever,” Shea wrote on his personal Facebook page. “To Governor Inslee, I do not take seriously an admonition against violence from someone who routinely fails to condemn Antifa acts of terrorism in this state and the barbaric rhetoric aimed at our President on the one hand while supporting the systematic murder of babies in the womb on the other.”

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted Saturday that House Republicans should “do the right thing” and eject Shea from their caucus.

The Washington State Democrats published an open letter Monday, calling for the ejection of Shea from House Republican Caucus. The letter outlines Shea’s behaviors and ideologies they find inappropriate.

The organization said it is “past time” to do something about Shea and that “his unethical and vocal support for dangerous right-wing militias, anti-LGBTQ, and racists groups,” are reasons for action.

This isn’t the first time that Shea has found himself at the center of a controversy. Last year, Shea was accused of encouraging violence after the publication of a document titled, “Biblical Basis for War.”

The document used bullet points to outline how and when war is justified, according to Shea. He also called a tyrant “someone who rules without God.”

After the document was published, Shea was removed from his position in the House Republican leadership. He is currently serving his sixth term in the legislature since being elected in 2008. His section on the Washington State House Republican website describes Shea as, “recognized nationally as a Constitutional conservative and pro-liberty legislator.”

Shea hosts the radio show “Patriot Radio” on the American Christian Network. Shea grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga University. He is an attorney in Spokane and one of the major proponents of the State of Liberty movement, which aims to have eastern Washington secede from western Washington. The group has held rallies at the state capitol and town halls elsewhere in the state, including Moses Lake. The group maintains a website with a list of grievances against the state government. They advocate for lower taxes, limited government, gun rights, and oppose “forced” immunization of children.

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