Idaho GOP lawmaker part of domestic terrorism report into Washington state legislator
Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Her code name: greenbean. Her assigned task during “Operation Armed Backyard”: Identify Patriot bail bondsmen.
These are among the more than a dozen references to North Idaho state Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, in a 100-page investigative report prepared for the Washington House of Representatives on one of its members, Republican Rep. Matt Shea, whose eastern Washington district in Spokane County abuts Idaho.
The damning report found that “Shea participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States.”
Washington lawmakers had asked investigators to determine whether Shea engaged in, planned or promoted political violence; identify his involvement with groups that engage in or promote political violence; and “assess the level of threat posed by these individuals and groups.”
The four-month investigation found that “Shea, as a leader in the Patriot movement, planned, engaged in and promoted” three armed conflicts between 2014 and 2016: in Bunkerville, Nevada; in Priest River, Idaho; and at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, an armed takeover that captured the nation’s attention in January and February 2016.
“It is the professional opinion of the investigators, that on a more probable than not basis, Rep. Shea presents a present and growing threat of risk to others through political violence,” concludes the report, which was made public this week.
Based on the report’s findings, on Dec. 19, Washington House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, announced that Shea had been suspended from the caucus and also removed from his House committees.
“Allegations this serious, many supported by (Shea’s) own communications and associates, justify this immediate action,” Wilcox said in a news release.
Scott, who is in her third term in the Idaho Legislature, is referenced by name throughout the report for her involvement at two of those three armed conflicts.
Among the report’s findings on Scott:
Due to health issues and safety concerns, the Veterans Administration decided to remove firearms from an elderly veteran in Priest River in August 2015. Shea posted an “urgent action alert” on social media for Patriot Movement followers to travel to Priest River with him to prevent the VA from removing the firearms.
In his post, Shea stated, “We cannot let this stand … Rep. Heather Scott has asked us all for help since this is in her district and I will stand by her.”
Shea also distributed a document titled, “Idaho Deployment—Operation Armed Backyard,” that detailed an operations plan for the Priest River confrontation, including an assignment for Scott to “identify Patriot bail bondsmen.”
On Jan. 4, 2016, as the Malheur occupation was just beginning, Shea sent an email titled, “Warning Order—Operation Cold Reality” to 15 individuals using code names. According to the report, one of the code names, “greenbean,” is “code name for Rep. Heather Scott, Idaho, who is a member of COWS and associate of Rep. Shea.”
COWS, or Coalition of Western States, is a group founded by Shea as part of “a strategy for leadership over future Patriot Movement armed resistance against the federal government,” states the report. It identifies Scott as one of the group’s leaders.
On Jan. 9, 2016, a Harney County judge agreed to meet with local politicians and federal and county law enforcement representatives to discuss the Malheur situation. In addition to Shea, Idaho GOP Reps. Scott, Sage Dixon and Judy Boyle attended the meeting, along with Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore.
During the meeting, Shea, Scott and Fiore introduced themselves as state representatives “while concealing their affiliation with the COWS organization,” states the report.
“During the meeting the (COWS) representatives gathered intelligence regarding law enforcement strategies and then traveled directly from the same meeting to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and met with Ammon Bundy and other armed occupiers,” according to the report.
The Statesman has reached out to Scott for comment.
Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakely, told the Statesman on Friday that he was not aware of the report and could not yet comment.