It’s another day for the Republican Party, which means absolutely outlandish scandal. A Republican Washington state legislator has now been revealed by a Washington state House-commissioned investigation to have participated in “domestic terrorism” throughout the last several years or so. According to the investigation’s final report, state Representative Matt Shea directly assisted in the planning and execution of domestic terrorism events like the so-called Patriot Movement’s violent takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, which ended with dozens of arrests and one death. The report implicating Shea has apparently been submitted to the FBI and a local U.S. Attorney’s office.
Incoming Democratic state House Speaker Laurie Jinkins explained:
‘This is about a state lawmaker who, according to the investigative findings, engaged in an act of domestic terrorism rather than choosing political or legal avenues to change laws and policies he disagrees with. This is why we believe formal action needs to be taken that sends a clear message upholding the values of a free and democratic society, and supports the safety of all Washingtonians.’
Other options include expelling Shea from the state legislature, which has only been done once before in the entire history of Washington. Shea has already been kicked out of the state House Republican caucus, and the leader of the state House’s Republicans, J.T. Wilcox, said that Shea should resign. Spokane County’s Republican sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has even suggested there could be enough evidence to charge Shea with treason. In conventionally Trump-ian, confrontational fashion, Shea admonished his “fellow Patriots” to “stand strong” and insisted that he would not resign.
According to the Rampart Group, which carried out the investigation, Shea also helped build the number of demonstrators at a 2014 armed standoff between Patriot Movement supporters and federal authorities from around about 100 to 1,500, and he also attracted about 100 partially armed demonstrators to a 2015 protest in Idaho on behalf of a veteran who was set to be prohibited from purchasing firearms because of a stroke. Notably, he did not act alone — 2016 Republican nominee for Washington state Lands Commissioner Steve McLaughlin was included on emails planning the Malheur occupation, depicting Shea less as a rogue and more as a dangerous symptom. He worked with a candidate for statewide office, after all!
The Patriot Movement’s history includes the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people and was carried out by members of the group.
In Shea’s case, the Rampart Group describes him as a “leader” of the covert, far right organization, and they explain that in the Malheur case, he wrote up plans for militia operations right as the occupation got underway, and he participated in phone calls with occupation leader Ammon Bundy in advance of the fiasco. He also passed off information to Bundy about law enforcement responses to his occupation. Shea’s other work has included advocacy for the creation of a 51st state out of part of what’s now Washington.
In another world, if a member of the sitting president’s party was credibly accused of domestic terrorism, that president might be likely to condemn the offender. Considering Donald Trump’s documented egomania — that doesn’t seem likely to happen.