When most people think of Republican lawmakers who are a little too cozy for comfort with the far right, the first person who usually comes to mind is Congressman Steve King. The Congressman from northwest Iowa recently lost his committee assignments for his open and unashamed sympathies with racists and white supremacists. But a Republican state representative in Washington may have gone even further than that. He actually sat in on chat sessions at which far-right activists discussed spying on left-wing foes, and even launching violent attacks on them.
Matt Shea represents Washington’s 4th legislative district, located in the northeastern suburbs of Spokane. He’s a tea partier from central casting. On his campaign Website, he describes his priorities as “less tax, less government, more freedom!” A veteran of the Bosnian and Iraqi conflicts, Shea says his drill sergeant told him to “always be prepared to give up your career at a moment’s notice to do the right thing.”
Well, it seems that Shea has a rather twisted idea of what the “right thing” is, based on chat logs obtained by the American bureau of The Guardian, one of the leading newspapers in the United Kingdom. In October 2017, Shea took part in a number of chat sessions with several prominent far-right activists in the Inland Empire. It took place ahead of a supposed antifa uprising that was supposed to take place that November.
The participants had some pretty chilling ideas about how to confront this supposed revolt. One of them, Anthony Bosworth–a member of the gang of thugs who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge–suggested targeting local antifa activists with “a pure Psyops operation,” and suggested that they “catch a few of them alone and work him over a little bit.”
Another participant, far-right podcaster Jack Robertson, suggested that they grab a potential target for spying, slam her face first into a road barrier and “shave her bald” with a Marine Corps knife. He also suggested running antifa up flagpoles. They also suggested harassing their foes’ families.
And where was Shea, who is not only an elected official, but a practicing attorney? Well, he was actually willing to help take part in the spying. Specifically, he offered to conduct “BG (background) checks” on at least three liberal activists.
When reached by The Guardian, Robertson tried to say that they were only joking about violence, saying that he and his buddies were just having “tongue in cheek” discussions. Um, Jack? You don’t joke about stuff like this, and you bloody well know it.
Shea’s colleagues don’t think this is a laughing matter, either. Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib called for the state house Republicans to throw Shea out of their caucus.
The state Democrats turned up the heat on Shea on Monday, writing an open letter calling for Shea to be drummed out of their caucus.
This isn’t the first time that Shea has stepped in it. Last fall, Shea admitted penning a four-page manifesto called “Biblical Basis for War,” in which he advocated killing any men who refused to submit to fundamentalist tenets. Spokane County sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, a fellow Republican, was alarmed enough by the manifesto to refer it to the FBI. In the ensuing fallout, several of Shea’s donors demanded refunds, and Shea lost his post as the chairman of the state house Republican caucus.
But even without this earlier incident, this latest news about Shea’s actions is simply outrageous. An elected official who not only stands idly by while people advocate spying on their political opponents, and targeting them for violence? That is simply unacceptable, no matter what your political shade. King was stripped of his committee assignments for far, far less than this.
This writer is reminded of how a gaggle of far-left activists marched on Tucker Carlson’s Washington house last November, pounded on his door, and chanted, “We know where you sleep at night.” Granted, Carlson may have embellished what happened, but what can be proven beyond dispute is several miles over the line. Regardless of what you think about Carlson, marching on someone’s house and targeting his or her family is never acceptable.
Had a Democratic elected official in the Washington area taken part in chats with this bunch beforehand, there would be no defensible reason for that official to stay in office. This is no different. When an elected official, regardless of party, condones spying on political opponents and targeting them for violent attacks, it’s time for that elected official to go.
Shea needs to be told in no uncertain terms to resign or face expulsion. Sign this petition telling the Washington state house to throw Shea out.
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