OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State House Republicans Leader released a statement condemning threats of political violence in the wake of an investigative report involving Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley).
Shea represents Washington's 4th District, which encapsulates the area surrounding Spokane Valley. Shea has a history of politically controversial statements that resonated with voters in Eastern Washington but drew criticism from other elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
An investigative report released by The Guardian on Saturday alleged that Shea took part in conversations about surveillance and possible violence against those perceived to be liberal political activists.
Shea, who represents Washington's 4th District surrounding Spokane Valley, has not responded to KREM's request for comment.
Shea posted on his personal Facebook page Monday night in response to The Guardian's report. His statement said in part: "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."
In Shea's statement, he shared a link to an Australian website that aligns itself with white nationalist views. The article attacks the Guardian writer and falsely states that he is an "extremist sympathizer."
Read Shea's full statement below:
J.T. Wilcox, the Washington State House Republican Leader, said he condemns threats of political violence "in the strongest terms" in a statement released on Monday.
"Threats of political violence have no place in our society and I condemn them in the strongest terms. The statements made by others in a text conversation with Representative Matt Shea were wrong and deeply upsetting. I take these statements seriously and condemn them with no reservation. My conversations with Matt and Leadership will continue," the statement reads.
Wilcox's statement did not make reference to the discussion of carrying out surveillance against liberal activists.
Since the story broke, several Washington Democratic lawmakers have released statements condemning Shea's comments, with some calling on the state's Republican Caucus to eject Shea.
Washington governor and presidential hopeful Jay Inslee said Shea "crossed a new line" after the report was published.
“There is no place for hate in Washington state, especially in Washington’s Legislature. Rep. Matt Shea’s history of hate has now crossed a new line. He participated in conversations that advocated for violence against those with dissenting opinions. He is actively conspiring with others to surveil and target political activists," Inslee wrote in part.
Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski called on House Republicans to oust Rep. Matt Shea from their caucus.
Podlodowski wrote an open letter to the Washington state Republican Party and Washington House Republican Caucus on Monday. She said the party should oust Shea from the caucus, while also “formally condemning and sanctioning” him.
Her statement echoes a similar sentiment from Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.