Luke Kenneally

Learning about Spokane Valley state Rep. Matt Shea is an absurd and somewhat terrifying experience.

In addition to a heavily checkered past, Shea is being investigated at the moment for potential involvement with groups or individuals who promote or plan political violence. With a slew of extreme allegations and odd public beliefs, the five-time elected Washington state official is perhaps one of the most bizarre political figures in the area.

The current investigation centers partially around Shea’s messages and promotion of the group “Team Rugged,” which defined its mission in emails to Shea as providing “patriotic and biblical training on war for young men.”

This training included weapons instruction involving knives, rifles and pistols, as well as combat scenarios pitting participants against Muslims.

The emails, which were first reported by The Guardian, chronicle the organization reaching out to Shea for a recommendation on Facebook while describing their practices.

Shea actively and personally promoted this group on his Facebook page through Facebook live interviews with representatives.

However, Christian militant rhetoric has long had a place in Shea’s beliefs. In 2018, Shea took credit for writing a four-page manifesto entitled “Biblical Basis for War.” In this bizarre and alarming work, Shea details steps to take in the event of a religious war. Shea claims it's a "scholarly" sermon on war in the Old Testament. 

The manifesto states that if a nation does not yield, a religious militia assembled should "kill all men" in an opposing state, and later in the writing, Shea said “assassination to remove tyrants is just.”

If this sounds bizarre, it’s because it is. But this actually happened and reporting on Shea’s outlandish and abhorrent manifesto can be found in The Spokesman-Review.

The other facet of the investigation into Shea revolves around his involvement in chat rooms with far-right activists.

In these chat room conversations obtained by The Guardian and referenced by The Spokesman-Review, Shea and several other associates discussed surveillance of other elected officials as well as graphic, violent acts against left-wing protesters.

Outside of his religious and politically violent rhetoric, Shea has espoused several fringe groups advocating for the creation of a separate state for the Eastern side of Washington.

The movement which is perhaps Shea’s most famous endorsement, is a push to establish a separate state in Eastern Washington called Liberty.

Shea is a central figure in this movement and has sponsored several bills to the Washington state Legislature advocating for the “creation of a new state in Eastern Washington” is cited several times on The Liberty State's website.

The movement is also defined by its noted grievances with universal background checks for the purchases of firearms and its views on immunization. 

How this man is in office, as an elected official, is a concept beyond my own comprehension. 

It should go without saying, but a vote for Shea is not a vote for the Republican Party and traditional GOP policy. An endorsement of this alarming figure is support for a collection of ideals held by a militant Christian and alt-right fanatic who has consistently threatened religious and political violence against his own state.

This is only a small sampling of Shea’s strange career. I would encourage readers to go out and do additional research on this member of our state's Legislature.

Luke Kenneally is the photo editor. Follow him on Twitter: @lone_trombone. 

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