Washington State Rep Just An America-Loving Domestic Terrorist, Report Finds
An independent report commissioned by Washington's state House of Representatives finds that Rep. Matt Shea, who likes playing Jesus Warrior with militia types, helped to plan the 2016 Bundy Slob Militia takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, as well as another, less-publicized armed confrontation between militia goobers and federal agents in Idaho in 2015. Like many crazies in the so-called "Patriot" antigovernment movement, Shea was in part radicalized by traveling to Nevada in 2014 to help Cliven Bundy declare war on federal agents.
In addition to those three armed standoffs, the report says Shea
took part in a group chat in 2017 where he "condoned violence and intimidation" of his political opponents, and offered to conduct background checks on them.
The report also details how, from 2014 to 2019, Shea routinely used online forums to encourage his supporters to harass and intimidate "activists, government officials, Muslims, and others who speak or act in opposition to his personal beliefs and political agenda." As one does.
He seems nice!
The consequences were pretty darn quick, as reported by Crosscut, a nonprofit news consortium that covers the Northwest (it's a pretty cool outfit!). After the report was released yesterday, Washington state's House Republican Caucus suspended Shea, cutting off his access to shared House legislative staff and barring him from all Republican internal meetings and reindeer games. Shea has also been booted from membership on two House committees, as well as from his ranking position on the House Energy and Environment Committee.
As you might expect, Shea took to Facebook to whine he's being WITCH HUNTED!
The poor persecuted dear.
Shea has been a notorious figure on the far Right in the Northwest for years; you might have heard of him in October 2018 when the Spokane Spokesman-Review published a story about a cheerful little manifesto he wrote. Called "Biblical Basis for War," it called for redeeming America by establishing a theocracy based on "Biblical law." That would involve eliminating abortion, same-sex marriage, "idolatry or occultism" and communism. Among other fine principles, Shea insisted that "Assassination to remove tyrants is just, not murder."
But don't worry, this Dominionist revolution would only be violent if its enemies refused to surrender. Shea's "rules of war" emphasize that surrender of the enemy -- that would be Americans -- would be non-negotiable. And the plan is really simple when it comes to those who don't surrender: "If they do not yield – kill all males."
Shea acknowledged he'd written the document, but claimed it was merely notes for some sermons on Old Testament law, which we should note was remarkably short on references to guerrilla warfare, assassinations, and eliminating abortion, same-sex marriage, and communism, all of which are somewhat more modern obsessions.
Shea and his plans for splitting Washington in half, creating a "Liberty State" in the rightwing eastern half of the state, where everyone could be free to stockpile guns and not be communist or particularly bothered by the federal government, were also featured in the second season of the outstanding "Bundyville" podcast, which by coincidence we binged last weekend. It's very good!
Crosscut notes that the report, written by a team led by a former FBI agent, was commissioned by the state House after an April story in the Guardian detailed a 2017 group chat in which Shea discussed "carrying out surveillance, 'psyops' and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies" with three other rightwing buddies.
The full 108-page report, embedded below, details Shea's involvement in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff, including his role in founding a group made up of elected officials from several Western states aimed at coordinating "leadership over future Patriot Movement armed resistance against the federal government." The group has the catchy name "Coalition of Western States" -- get it? COWS! No word on whether Devin Nunes is a member.
The biggest, and most worrisome, revelations in the report concern Shea's involvement in the 2016 sequel to the Nevada standoff, when the Bundys and militia supporters seized and occupied the federal Malheur wildlife refuge outside Burns, Oregon. Although the Dildo Militia portrayed the takeover as a spontaneous expression of rage at Big Government tyranny following a march in support of two arsonist ranchers sent to federal prison, it was anything but:
[This] investigation has obtained information that the armed takeover was meticulously planned in December 2015 by conspirators that included Representative Shea.
Even more disturbing, the report lays out that Shea used his position as a lawmaker to act as a mole for the conspirators, including Ammon Bundy (who was later acquitted in federal court, so how dare we call him and the dildotarian resistance that);
Shea also met with law enforcement officers without sharing his involvement in planning the standoff, according to the report. Shea used that meeting to "gather intelligence regarding law enforcement strategies," the report says, then met with leaders of the takeover, going against the wishes of local law enforcement [...]
Shea's involvement in planning the 2016 Malheur takeover contrasts with his statements to a House ethics investigator at the time. Back then, Shea had said he traveled to the armed conflicts in Nevada in 2014 and Oregon in 2016 on "fact-finding" missions and to help "ensure a peaceful resolution."
"However, this investigation has determined Representative Shea went to Nevada and Malheur specifically to support armed insurrections at both locations in furtherance of his Patriot Movement agenda," the report says.
The report is blunt in its assessment of Shea's involvement with Y'all Qaeda's assault on the wildlife sanctuary, saying he "participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States."
In-between the 2014 and 2016 Vanilla Isis slob jamborees, Shea planned and participated in another armed confrontation with the feds, in Priest River, Idaho. We'll go with Crosscut's summary of that very special expression of "patriotism":
That confrontation involved blocking federal officials from seizing firearms from an elderly veteran who was no longer legally eligible to possess guns, according to the investigators' report.
After the veteran suffered a stroke, a health care professional added the man to a federal database of people ineligible to purchase firearms. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had planned to remove the veteran's guns, the report says, "pursuant to VA regulations for individuals receiving VA benefits."
Shea called on members of the Patriot movement to assemble at the man's house to stop the firearms seizure.
It worked, the investigators wrote: "Reports indicated that approximately 100 individuals showed up, many armed, and stood with Representative Shea at the veteran's home to prevent the VA employee from entering."
Nobody ended up getting shot, but the report notes Shea had been deeply involved in planning the standoff, and that he understood it "could lead to violence and could develop into a protracted engagement with the Federal government[.]" Among other things, the planning documents call for making sure the militia can have "trained medical personnel" on hand. They were expecting casualties, or perhaps worried about tripping over dildos.
Shea issued a statement through his attorney complaining that since he wasn't allowed to review and comment on the report, his precious Due Process rights had been violated. Is this even America? He wrote,
When due process is thrown out the window for political expediency we all, as Americans, are in danger[.]
As we all know, the subjects of investigations always get a chance to help edit the final draft of any report. As for being denied any chance of due process, the report points out right up front that the investigators offered to interview Shea, but the wingnut legislator, who almost never speaks to the press (why would he? They're all commies!), declined to participate. Besides, this is a legislative investigation, not a criminal one -- at least not yet. The clerk of the House has forwarded the report to the FBI and to the US Attorney's office.
Despite being shitcanned from committees and his caucus, Shea is indeed still a member of the state House, although possibly not for long. In addition to bipartisan calls for him to resign, the House could decide to expel him. That would require a two-thirds majority vote, and would make Shea only the second House member to be expelled; the other time, 85 years ago, involved a legislator convicted of statutory rape. The House got rid of him even after the governor at the time pardoned him. What the fuck, does Matt Bevin have a time machine?
Here's the full report for your weekend reading enjoyment.
Maybe Rep Shea, if he finds himself with time on his hands, will emulate his Malheur comrade LaVoy Finnicum, who, a few years before that standoff, wrote a really bad revenge-porn novel about taking on the whole government and winning. One hopes he can avoid the other reason people know Finicum.
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