An eye-opening report released earlier this month includes evidence that Washington GOP Rep. Matt Shea “participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States” by taking part in planning and participating alongside Ammon Bundy in the armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, according to The Seattle Times.
Melissa Santos writing for Crosscut notes that’s not all Shea did. The 108-page report, the result of an investigation conducted by the Washington state House, also found that he played a similar role in two other armed conflicts that were staged against the U.S. government. And it appears he allegedly did this by actively participating in the standoffs as well as planning them. This included recruiting armed militia members to fend off federal law enforcement agents.
“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 government in three states outside the state of Washington over a three-year period,” the report, released Thursday, stated. “In one conflict Representative Shea led covert strategic pre-planning in advance of the conflict.”
When news of the report broke, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox confirmed Shea had been suspended from the House Republican Caucus in a strict disciplinary measure. This move limits his access to legislative staff and he will be barred from House Republicans’ internal meetings to discuss ongoing legislation.
“He should resign,” Wilcox posted on Twitter. “He cannot use House Republican staff, he cannot meet with the caucus, his office will be moved.”
Rep. 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. https://t.co/AATHOHuO31
— Rep. JT Wilcox (@jtwilcox111) December 20, 2019
Shea, a Spokane Valley Republican who was elected in 2008, has plenty of connections to several armed militias, the report found, and he uses his position in the Patriot Movement to dispatch militia members to conflicts where government officials are involved. The Patriot Movement consists of numerous conservative groups and individuals in largely rural areas. The groups are comprised of armed militia members and individuals who consider themselves “sovereign citizens.” Most have a deep-seated fear of the federal government.
What are some of the allegations Shea faces, according to the report?
- As part of a group chat in 2017, Shea said he “condoned violence and intimidation” towards his political adversaries and offered to conduct background checks on them. This allegation spurred House leaders to commission the investigation, according to The Guardian.
- Over a five year period, from 2014 to 2019, Shea routinely encouraged his supporters to intimidate “activists, government officials, Muslims, and others who speak or act in opposition to his personal beliefs or political agenda.”
- The investigation also uncovered other media reports surrounding Shea, including one that said he “engaged in and supported the training of youth and young adults to fight a holy war,” and that he wrote a document called “Biblical Basis for War.” That document called for replacing the U.S. government with a “theocracy” and also called for “the killing of all males who don’t agree.”
It’s also been reported that Shea allegedly discussed using a GPS device to track his political opponents and that he reportedly keeps a list of law enforcement officers. It’s also purported that he has tied to a group of men in Eastern Washington who have received firearms training in anticipation of a religious war.
Numerous groups and Spokane-area officials, including Spokane County’s Republican Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane’s former Republican mayor, and the Spokane Police Guild, are calling for Shea to step down. Their sentiments are echoed by state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski, who also wants him to be prosecuted for his actions.
Knezovich is also calling for criminal charges.
“I believe there’s enough to charge Shea with domestic terrorism, if not treason,” he reportedly told a reporter from a local television station.
The armed takeover at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge by dozens of armed protesters lasted six weeks and the standoff ended after one protester was killed and dozens were arrested.