Months after being shunned by his colleagues over a damaging report on his involvement with the far-right militia movement, Washington state representative Matt Shea will not appear on the ballot for re-election in 2020 after 11 years as a legislator.
Friday’s filing deadline to appear on November’s ballot came and went without any word from Shea on his House seat, local Washington outlets reported. Shea did file, however, to run for the neighborhood-level role of Republican precinct captain.
Shea has been marginalized as a political force for months. He was stripped of his committee assignments and kicked out of the House Republican caucus last year after an independent investigation alleged that he had engaged in “domestic terrorism” during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.
Friday’s deadline came a day after the Washington lawmaker received word that he would be fined $4,700 for an olive oil vandalism incident related to the Satanic Temple of Washington.
In March, Shea attended a counter-demonstration as the satanists rallied at the state’s capitol building. “We prayed, claimed, and cleaned the ground, and evangelized showing the radical love of God,” Shea wrote on Facebook.
The state office that oversees the building released footage last week showing Shea holding a bottle of olive oil and walking around the capitol grounds. The oil Shea allegedly dumped on the porous marble steps, according to the state, cost thousands of dollars to clean up.
Shea on Friday addressed a protest against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) COVID-19 public health orders at the Spokane city hall, saying that “tyranny is a disease — a virus, if you will.”
“I submit to you that we should tell Gov. Inslee today that it is our aim to quarantine tyrants,” he said, according to video of the event.
Shea’s apparent retirement from the state legislature marks the end of an era; for years, he was perhaps the most prominent elected figure in America directly aligned with the far-right militia movement. Shea is also a leading figure in the “Liberty” movement, which as Rolling Stone reported in 2018 aims to sever Washington’s conservative eastern regions from its liberal west, creating a 51st state.
Shea made global headlines in 2018 when a document he’d written on the “Biblical Basis For War” was reported by the Spokesman-Review. The document included instructions for how a “holy army” would institute biblical law, including the instruction, “If they do not yield — kill all males.”
In 2019, The Guardian published a leaked exchange in a private chat from 2017, in which Shea discussed spying on local left-wing activists. “What BG checks need to be done,” Shea wrote in one message, referring to background checks. “Give me the list.” Another participant in the chat floated physical violence: “Fist full of hair, and face slam, to a Jersey barrier,” the far-right broadcaster Jack Robertson wrote.
“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 subsequently said in his own defense.
Later last year, The Spokesman-Review and Guardian published reports on Shea’s ties to a “Christian warfare” group called “Team Rugged.”
The development that effectively doomed Shea’s legislative career, however, came in a December 2019 report commissioned by the state legislature into whether Shea had promoted or engaged in political violence.
Independent investigators hired by the legislature determined that Shea had engaged in domestic terrorism through his intimate involvement in the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
“Representative Shea developed and circulated military-style Operations Orders that laid out detailed plans to supply and support the armed siege,” the report found.
Shea said he was the victim of a “sham investigation” when the report was published in December, comparing himself to President Donald Trump. But as a result of the report’s findings, Shea was booted from the legislature’s House Republican caucus and stripped of his committee assignments. Though Republican House leaders called for Shea to resign, no Republicans signed onto a Democratic letter calling for Shea’s expulsion from the legislature.