In Private Chats, Far-Right GOPer Discussed Attacking, Spying On Activists

Washington State Representative Matthew Shea
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A controversial Washington state Republican participated in discussions about spying on and engaging in physical violence against anti-fascist activists, private chats published by the Guardian Saturday reveal.

State lawmaker Matt Shea was part of a four-person chat thread with several far-right commentators about “psy-ops” they could wage on local activists a couple of years ago, and he personally offered to carry out background checks on their behalf. Per the Guardian, the men used the encrypted app Signal to carry out the conversation and all four used pseudonyms. (Shea’s was “Verum Bellator,” Latin for “true warrior).

“What BG checks need to be done,” Shea wrote in one message. “Give me the list.”

Though he did not personally suggest committing violence, other participants, including far-right radio host Jack Robertson, did so, in graphic terms.

“Fist full of hair, and face slam, to a Jersey barrier,” Robertson wrote in one chat obtained by the newspaper. “Treat em like communist revolutionaries.”

The messages were exchanged in the lead-up to a supposed “Antifa revolt” that far-right outlets insisted would take place in November 2017. (No such event ever occurred).

Shea did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. On Saturday, he shared a link to Robertson’s latest podcast episode on his Twitter feed, saying it offered an “expose of the battles being fought by Rep. Matt Shea.”

Ozzie Knezovich, the Republican sheriff of Spokane County, which Shea represents, told the Guardian that the people around Shea were dangerous, and that his “extremism” rendered him unfit to serve.

“I think if a state representative is condoning violence against his constituents then that person needs to be removed from office, and I hope the voters will do that at the next election,” Knezovich said.

Shea first received national attention last year after Knezovich turned over to the FBI a manifesto Shea wrote about the “Biblical Basis for War,” a how-to guide on establishing a conservative Christian theocracy via a murderous campaign.

Though the document surfaced days before the 2018 midterms, Shea was reelected to a sixth term representing his deeply conservative eastern Washington district.

But Shea is no stranger to controversy. Among his greatest hits: pulling a gun on another driver during a 2011 fit of road rage; proposing that eastern Washington secede and form the 51st “Liberty State”; and calling journalists “dirty, godless, hateful people” at an August 2018 gun-rights rally.

The Washington state GOP did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib and the Washington Democratic Party urged the Republican House Caucus to formally expel Shea.

This post has been updated.

Latest Muckraker

Notable Replies

  1. He’s a verified wing nut. Dunno how/why he keeps getting elected.

  2. I am genuinely wondering, given the man’s personal history and previous statements, why he hasn’t been questioned by the appropriate authorities regarding this.

    I remember Janet Napolitano speaking at a security conference years ago, issuing a warning about the rise of domestic terrorism by those with the means, training and position to carry it out.

    This man is a text book case.

  3. But Shea is no stranger to controversy. Among his greatest hits: pulling a gun on another driver during a 2011 fit of road rage;

    Um and he’s a state politician?

    Either felons can hold elected office in WA or pulling a gun on someone in WA isn’t a felony.


  4. Avatar for docd docd says:

    Is it just me, or do these Wingers always seem to assume they can commit assault and battery without the victim fighting back, availing himself of a second amendment solution, or bringing charges?
    Do you get the impression that they are convinced that people on the left are easily cowed wimps?

  5. He doesn’t have the right skin color to be a terrorist. If he does anything it’s an isolated incident that no one could have predicted. :smirk:

Continue the discussion at

84 more replies


Avatar for playitagainrowlf Avatar for srfromgr Avatar for sysprog Avatar for theod Avatar for steviedee111 Avatar for sniffit Avatar for borisjimbo Avatar for lastroth Avatar for bboerner Avatar for jprfrog Avatar for civik Avatar for tena Avatar for dommyluc Avatar for established_1781 Avatar for onomasticator Avatar for us_resident Avatar for susanintheoc Avatar for castor_troy Avatar for evensteven Avatar for brian512 Avatar for drtv Avatar for 10c Avatar for justruss Avatar for rascal_crone

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: