Investigation finds Washington state representative took part in ‘domestic terrorism’
Chris Boyette and Carma Hassan, CNN
Published at | Updated at
(CNN) — A Republican state lawmaker in Washington is accused of participating “in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States,” according to a new report released Thursday by the Washington State House Republicans on their website.
According to the report, state Rep. Matt Shea — who has represented the state’s 4th legislative district since 2009 — is the subject of an investigation that was commissioned by the Washington State House Representatives to find out whether he “engaged in, planned, or promoted political violence.”
Rampart Group investigators, who authored the report, say the investigation was sparked by “public allegations made against [Shea] in news media and online reporting” and that Shea declined a request to be interviewed for the report.
The report alleges that “[i]nvestigators have obtained evidence that Representative Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the State of Washington over a three-year period to include 2014, 2015 and 2016.”
The investigation also referenced a document released in 2018 that Shea admitted he wrote, titled “Biblical Basis for War.” The document is formatted with bullet points, and under one heading, it lists “Rules of War,” calling for a stop to abortions, same-sex marriage and communism. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it reads.
In a video posted on Facebook about a year ago, Shea responded to criticism about the Biblical Basis document saying the document was actually part of a larger discussion on the history of warfare and had been taken out of context.
Late Thursday, there was a Facebook post that appeared to be from Shea, saying in part, “Like we are seeing with our President this is a sham investigation meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to disarm and destroy our great country. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign.”
CNN reached out to Shea for comment but has not heard back.
Shea has been suspended from the House Republican Caucus and will be removed from his committees, state House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox said in a statement. He has served on the civil rights and judiciary committee, among others.
“Allegations this serious, many supported by his own communications and associates, justify this immediate action,” Wilcox said.
Shea remains in the legislature as an elected member and previously has served as the state House GOP caucus chair.
Wilcox said the Washington State House of Representatives referred the full report to the US Attorney’s Office and FBI. It’s not clear whether Shea is facing any charges.
FBI Seattle’s spokesman, Steve Bernd, told CNN the agency has received the report about Shea, but has no further information.
CNN has also reached out to the US Attorney’s Office for comment but has not heard back.
Details of the report’s findings
According to other findings in the report, Shea allegedly supported an armed occupation conflict of a federal government facility that lasted 41 days, resulting in “devastating financial, physical and emotional harm to a community and its residents; and the loss of one life” in 2014. The report said Shea posted on the Liberty For All III% website, calling for Patriot Movement members nationwide to travel to Bunkerville, Nevada, which resulted in the turnout of approximately 1,500 armed militia members that stood against the US government.
In 2015, the report said, Shea again called for Patriot Movement followers to go with him to Priest River, Idaho, where he allegedly engaged in an armed conflict with the Veteran’s Administration, where weapons were being seized from a veteran who had been determined by a healthcare professional as not eligible to purchase firearms.
The report also said the lawmaker participated in an act of domestic terrorism before and during an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
Shea remains a state legislator for now
For now, Shea will remain in office as a state representative. The Washington State Legislature is not currently in session. A member cannot be expelled unless the legislature is in session and then it requires a two-thirds vote, according to Bernard Dean, chief clerk of the Washington House of Representatives.
“A number of responses are possible, including expulsion or censure. Members will continue to discuss these and other options over the coming weeks,” Dean said.