SPOKANE, Wash. -- A Washington state lawmaker took part in “domestic terrorism” against the United States during a 2016 standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon and traveled throughout the West meeting with far-right extremist groups, according to an investigative report released Thursday.
The report prepared for the state Legislature said Rep. Matt Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley in eastern Washington, also found he trained young people to fight a “holy war," condoned intimidating opponents and promoted militia training by the Patriot Movement for possible armed conflict with law enforcement.
Prior to the release of the report, Shea was defiant.
“I will not back down,”’ Shea said. “I will continue to fight for our shared values that have made this country such a blessing to the rest of the world.”
“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.
One of the findings of the report was that Shea “participated in an act of domestic terrorism” when in 2016 he visited the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to support of its armed occupation by two sons of rancher Cliven Bundy.
Earlier this year, reports of a 2017 online chat that included Shea surfaced in the Guardian and later were expanded by The Spokesman-Review newspaper. That chat indicated the lawmaker joined a discussion in which others suggested violence against left-wing protesters.
Based on transcripts of the chat, there’s no indication Shea advocated violence himself, although at one point he offered to do background checks on political opponents.
Shea has also pursued creation of a 51st state in eastern Washington that would be called Liberty and run on biblical principles.
Shea last year lost a House leadership position after acknowledging he distributed the “biblical basis for war” document that also calls for killing non-Christian males who refuse to follow fundamentalist biblical law.
Shea is popular in his very conservative district and was re-elected in 2018 with 58% of the vote.