Politics

Unfit for office: Spokane-area officials want Matt Shea removed from his legislative seat

The walls are beginning to close in around state Rep. Matt Shea, the far-right Republican from Spokane Valley, Washington, with a penchant for connecting with militias and making plans for a violent civil war.

During the past week, several Spokane-area officials announced that they considered Shea unfit for office, joining a chorus begun by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knevovich, a Republican, who had made his view of the matter known for several years. These include Mayor David Condon, Police Chief Craig Meidl, the Spokane Police Guild, and the chief of the county deputies’ union.

The focus of their ire is Shea’s ongoing affiliations with the secessionist “Liberty” movement that seeks to create a new, militia-friendly state run by “Patriots,” along with his apparent participation in the online surveillance of his political enemies.  

In addition to running “background checks” on liberal activists and supporting military-style training for boys and young men, Shea has in recent years sought to purchase GPS tracking devices, compiled dossiers on local progressive leaders and kept a blacklist of suspected informants in his network. He also plotted to establish a “provisional government” in the event of a collapse and boasted about his efforts to “turn back the tide” of those who practice Islam in the United States.

Shea’s online chats discussing this surveillance included exchanges about violent attacks on his critics and other “nonbelievers.” Shea also authored a text calling for a “biblical war” in order to create a “Christian” state in which anyone resisting their rule could be put to death.

Shea has been deeply involved with a radical Christian nationalist sect based in the tiny northeastern Washington town of Marble, whose members practice paramilitary techniques in the deep woods there, partially in preparation for the formation of their new state, part of a longer-term “American Redoubt” plan to form a “Patriot”-run homeland.

“Our nation, our state and our city only work because our citizens have granted authority to the leaders they elect to serve them,” Mayor Condon told the Spokesman-Review. “When an elected official’s personal actions threaten the public trust in our public institutions and foundational principles, it’s time for that person to resign. This is where Rep. Shea finds himself.”

“I truly believe it’s time for the leadership of the Republican Party in the state of Washington, his peers, to step up and have the courage and the integrity to do the right thing,” Sheriff Knezovich said. “If he will not step down, they need to work to remove him.”

Joining the chorus of public officials was the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, which issued a statement Saturday saying Shea “uses his platform to promote hate and violence” and calling for his removal from office.

“Every moment he occupies a seat in our state Legislature emboldens extremists and erodes the legitimacy of our sacred institutions,” the NAACP said. “Anything short of the expulsion of Matt Shea from the Washington state House of Representatives is a threat to our community, a threat to our collective safety and an implicit endorsement of white supremacy.”


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