Under fire for leaked chats that show him discussing spying on his perceived political enemies, far-right Washington state Rep. Matt Shea is adapting a novel defense strategy. In a Monday evening Facebook post, Shea readily admitted to running background checks on those who “threaten” his family, and linked to a site that regularly posts white nationalist content.
The Guardian article that revealed that Shea and several far-right commentators discussed physically attacking and surveilling anti-fascist activists in a private chat was, Shea wrote, “an extremely misleading hit-piece.”
“Of course I have done background checks to protect my family and my community, but that was only in response to threats already coming from the left,” Shea continued. “I will continue to fight to protect the Constitution, my family, and my community. I will not back down. I will not quit. I will not give in. Ever.”
Shea also linked to an article from Australian website XYZ criticizing the Guardian journalist behind the story as an “extremist” for his reporting on the far-right. The journalist, Jason Wilson, pointed out on Twitter that XYZ regularly posts racist and anti-Semitic content.
Recent XYZ headlines include “Food for Thought – The Outlawing of White Nationalism,” “Conor McGregor Calls Out Muslim Snowflake,” and “Let’s (Finally) Have An Honest Conversation About the Holocaust.”
It’s unclear why Shea thought sharing the link was his best defense. The Washington state Democratic Party and Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib have called for him to be removed from the Republican caucus over the chats. House GOP Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox also condemned threats of political violence made by other participants in the four-person group chat, according to the Seattle Times.
Shea himself did not encourage violence in these conversations, but others, like far-right radio host Jack Robertson, proposed “face slam[ming]” Antifa members.
Shea is known for a history of extreme conduct, like writing a manifesto urging the murder of non-Christian males who refuse to follow fundamentalist biblical law.