Matthew Thomas Shea has served in the Washington House of Representatives, representing the 4th Legislative District, since 2009. In 2019, he was removed as State House Republican Caucus Chair for advocating violence against religious minorities and offering state surveillance of political enemies to members of hate groups. The year before, Shea admitted to having distributed a four-page manifesto linked to the Christian Identity movement, which called for the killing of non-Christian males if they do not follow fundamentalist biblical law. (He was referred to FBI investigation as a result.) Shea also hosts the twice-weekly show Patriot Radio, which is broadcast on the American Christian Network, and has sponsored Christian Reconstructionist events in DC.
The manifesto in question, written (according to the document’s metadata) by Shea and titled Biblical Basis for War– it’s available in full here – listed a number of strategies a “Holy Army” is supposed to employ. One section, on “rules of war”, suggested that one should “make an offer of peace before declaring war”, but emphasized that the peace terms must involve that the enemy “surrender on terms” of no abortions, no same-sex marriage, no communism, and that they “must obey Biblical law”, before continuing: “If they do not yield – kill all males.” The manifesto also condemns “communism”, understood here apparently as anything Shea disagrees with, and urges the use of “assassination and sabotage” against (presumably whomever Shea perceives to be) “tyrants”. Shea claimed that the document was a summary of “biblical sermons on war”, which really doesn’t explain what the purported explanation ought to have explained in order to count as an explanation. He also dismissed criticism as nothing more than “smears and slander and innuendo and implication” (it would be interesting to hear him try to define “innuendo”), claimed that his critics are part of a so-called “counter state” made up of “Marxists” and “Islamists”, and asserted that the United States is “a Christian nation”.
Distancing himself from the contents of the manifesto turned out to be a bit tricky, however, especially after The Guardian published chat records from a four-person right-wing chat group Shea had participated in under the alias “Verum Bellator”. The group discussed surveillance, psyops, intimidation and violent attacks on political enemies, including “Antifa” activists and “communists” (under the usual, broad wingnut interpretation of those labels, of course). Shea volunteered to conduct background checks on residents of Spokane, naming in particular three individuals. In addition to Shea, the chat group included Jack Robertson, who broadcasts a far-right Radio Free Redoubt under the alias “John Jacob Schmidt” and Anthony Bosworth, a violent maniac who participated in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, reportedly as a “security specialist” appointed by Shea; Shea subsequently awarded Bosworth a Patriot of the Year award in 2016. Indeed, Shea had himself travelled to the prior Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada, as a cheerleader, commenting that when it comes to the Bundy situation, Americans are divided between “patriots and loyalists”: “Are you a loyalist or are you a patriot? Are you a god-fearing, self-reliant, freedom-loving American, or are you a government-dependent, Constitution-ignoring socialist?” Of course, given that Cliven Bundy thinks taxpayers should give him tens of thousands of dollars a year in free grazing rights on public land, one suspects Shea has an idiosyncratic definition of “government-dependent”. Anyways, in response to the Guardian’s revelations, Shea attacked the author of the piece by tying him to “violent Marxist revolutionaries”, using a an anti-semitic website as source.
In August 2019 The Guardian published a second set of emails that tied Shea to Team Rugged, an organization aiming to train kids for “biblical warfare”, including weapons training to prepare the warriors for the “fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists [sic]”. Shea made videos in support of the group, appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington, and paid the founder of the group, Patrick Caughran, money from his campaign fund in 2018. The group’s views and strategies are in part based on the teachings of white supremacist, slavery-defender, miscegenation-opponent and pastor John Weaver.
Shea is also co-founder and director of the Washington Family Foundation – Shea’s brand of “family values” are definitely of the TM kind – as well as a board member of the anti-marriage-equality group Protect Marriage Washington. During his first time in office he introduced legislation seeking to block the recognition of same-sex marriage in Washington. He also organized the Spokane chapter of ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim organization correctly designated as a hate group by the SPLC; Shea responded to the designation by stating that “the Southern Poverty Law Center – and the sheriff (Knezovich) that backs them – is the most dangerous organization in this country” (Shea has an ongoing conflict with Knezovich, a Republican). Of course, insofar as Shea’s goals for the US are aligned with the Christian Identity movement, then yeah: the SPLC is a threat and sort of ought to be.
He is no fan of the media either, referring to reporters as “dirty, godless, hateful people” at an August 2018 gun-rights rally, and referring to the local newspapers Spokesman-Review and Inlander as the “Socialist-Review” and “Inslander”, respectively. (He willingly talks to InfoWars, however, e.g. about their common concern for FEMA concentration camps.) The attitude is somewhat noteworthy given that Shea at least used to be among the eight state legislators on a Washington Legislature task force dealing with state public records laws and exemptions to them.
A diehard conspiracy theorist, Shea has long ranted about the alleged cooperation of leftists and Muslims for the purpose of creating “counter-states” in the US, and he has been invited e.g. by the John Birch society to discuss his views.
Shea has also for a while been pushing a plan for eastern Washington to secede and reconstitute as Liberty State; apparently, he is under the delusion that the result would be a prosperous, rich state with political clout. Shea is also one of the main architects behind the American Redoubt idea, the delusional idea of turning Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Oregon and Washington into a sort of fortress for Christians to ride out the collapse of society.
Diagnosis: Violent, evil, demonstrably dangerous and fueled by paranoid conspiracy theories, it does not speak well of the good people of Washington’s 4thlegislative district that they elected this maniac.