Internal Investigative Report Accuses Washington State Rep. Matt Shea Of ‘Domestic Terrorism’

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The top Republican in the Washington House of Representatives is calling on state Rep. Matt Shea to step down following the release of an explosive independent investigation that alleges Shea, a Spokane Valley Republican, is a “prominent leader” of the Patriot Movement who engaged in “irresponsible and possibly illegal activities” and played a role in three armed conflicts.

“Rep. Matt Shea has been suspended from any role in the House Republican Caucus,” tweeted Rep. J.T. Wilcox, the House Republican leader, Thursday afternoon in response to the report’s findings. “He should resign.” Wilcox later issued a formal statement.

The armed conflicts that Shea is accused of participating in include the 41-day occupation the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon in 2016, which the report concluded Shea helped plan in an “act of domestic terrorism against the United States.”

“Although this investigation found no evidence that Representative Shea presents an imminent direct threat to any individual or group, considerable evidence was discovered indicating Representative Shea has since 2014, presented a significant threat of political violence against employees of the Federal Government and state and local law enforcement officers, carried out through intermediaries sympathetic to the Patriot Movement,” the report said.

The 108-page report was commissioned in late July by the Washington House following media reports about Shea’s involvement with far-right and militia groups.

The investigation was conducted by the Rampart Group, a Silverdale, Washington firm led by former FBI agent Kathy Loedler. Her team interviewed 34 individuals, including former associates of Shea’s, as well as political opponents. The names of the witnesses were not included and some participated “at great risk to themselves,” the report said.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Shea engaged in intimidation tactics against a political opponent in the 2012 election.
  • Offered to conduct background checks on political opponents.
  • Condoned intimidation of political activists, government officials and Muslims.
  • Engaged in “counterintelligence gathering” in opposition to law enforcement efforts.

Shea Did Not Agree To Be Interviewed

Shea did not agree to be interviewed as part of the investigation. Early Thursday, he issued a statement prior to the release of the report that said he had not seen the investigation. But Shea called his communications lawful and said, “I will not back down. I will continue to fight.”

“Due process is the right of every citizen, and should be afforded to all members of the House regardless of their views or party affiliation,” Shea said.

Presuming he doesn’t resign, Shea could face a vote of censure or even expulsion when the 2020 Legislature convenes on January 13. Expulsion would require a two-thirds votes of the House.

State Rep. Matt Shea speaks at a 51st state rally at the Washington Capitol on Feb. 15 2019. CREDIT: AUSTIN JENKINS / N3

Washington state Rep. Matt Shea speaks at a 51st state rally at the Washington Capitol on Feb. 15 2019. CREDIT: Austin Jenkins/N3

“In its 130-year history, I am unaware of House members ever having received such a comprehensive and disturbing investigatory report about another member,” said incoming Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, a Tacoma Democrat, in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Jinkins added that the House investigative report had been forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI, but that no decision had been made on what action the House might take against Shea in January. The FBI confirmed to the public radio Northwest News Network that it had been forwarded the report.

Besides the Malheur standoff, the two other armed incidents explored in detail in the report were:

  • The 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, during which members of the Bundy family and their supporters faced off against the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees.
  • A 2015 gathering in Priest River, Idaho where Shea joined a group that gathered to block the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from seizing firearms belonging to an elderly veteran who had suffered a stroke.

In Nevada, the report found, “Shea’s actions… reveal evidence of his planning and promoting political violence against employees of the US Government and law enforcement officers.”

In Idaho, the report said, Shea engaged in planning an operation that he “understood could lead to violence and could develop into a protracted engagement with the Federal government.”

In the end, according to KHQ TV’s reporting at the time, the VA cancelled its plans to inspect the veteran’s home.

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