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Democrats call on House Republicans to remove Rep. Shea from caucus

Washington State Democrats are calling on House Republicans to oust Rep. Matt Shea from their caucus following an investigative report claiming that he discussed surveillance of Spokane residents.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story identified Rep. Matt Shea as a libertarian. This has been removed as Shea is not officially a member of the Libertarian Party.

Democratic lawmakers in Washington are calling for action from Republican counterparts following an explosive investigative report by The Guardian alleging that state Rep. Matt Shea discussed surveillance of Spokane residents. 

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.  

Following The Guardian's report published on Saturday, several lawmakers are speaking out. 

The report alleges Rep. Shea participated in chats discussing surveillance of people perceived to be liberal activists, as well as violent attacks on them, based on records obtained by The Guardian.

Shea has not responded to KREM's request for comment.

RELATED: Rep. Matt Shea discussed spying on Spokane residents, investigative report says

Most recently, Democrats within Shea's district condemned him on Tuesday and joined the Washington State Democratic Party on in asking the Washington House Republicans to expel him. 

"We condemn his fascist speech, adovacy of violence, extreme anti-government, racist, sexist and xenophobic views," the 4th Legislative District Democrats wrote in a statement. 

"Mr. Shea is no stranger to initiating harassment and intimidation. The latest information to come out showed proof that he was willing to use his political office to pull background checks on local activists, while working with other extremists to use intimidation, harassment and violence," they continued.

Read the full statement below: 

Our chair and vice chair released a statement regarding Matt Shea.

Washington governor and presidential hopeful Jay Inslee said on Monday that 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."

“Rep. Shea embodies a strain of extreme ideology that, throughout the decades and into the present, has caused deep harm to people and families. I strongly condemn both his rhetoric and his behavior."

Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski called on House Republicans to oust Rep. Matt Shea from their caucus. 

Her statement followed a similar sentiment from Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.

"Obtaining background checks on people for the purpose of planning violence against them is a crime, and even offering to do so is clearly 100% unacceptable in the Legislature," Lt. Gov. Habib tweeted.

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.

“It is past time to do something about Matt Shea. Republican Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) crossed the decency line for most Washingtonians years ago with his unethical and vocal support for dangerous right-wing militias, anti-LGBTQ, and racist groups,” Podlodowski writes.

In the letter, Podlodowski cites eight instances of what she calls Shea’s “extreme and dangerous ideological record,” including organization of the Spokane chapter of the anti-Muslim ACT for America.

This information comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies ACT for America as a hate group.

Podlodowski also writes about Shea’s support of the “anti-public lands extremist movement,” close affiliation to members of the "anti-government militia movement,” and his appearance as master of ceremonies at the Red Pill Expo in Spokane – a gathering of what Podlodowski calls “extremist conspiracy theories.”

RELATED: Expo presenting 'market of far-right conspiracies' begins at Spokane Convention Center

She also references a document Shea wrote titled “Biblical Basis for Warfare,” which references that the enemy must be given the opportunity to “stop all abortions,” end “same-sex marriage,” eliminate “idolatry or occultism,” and “ban communism” before a declaration of war.

The four-page document referenced 14 different points, including how to stay within God’s will during a war, ways to know it is time to fight, things one needs to create a “Holy Army,” qualifications of a warrior, exemptions from military service and rules for war.

The document also addresses ways to confront tyranny from a biblical perspective. Shea said it does not promote violence.

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Podlodowski wrote that Shea’s personal actions are “equally disturbing.” She cited an instance where Shea called reporters “dirty, godless, hateful” people and a defamation lawsuit filed by local law enforcement. 

Spokane Deputy Travid Pendell filed that lawsuit in 2016 after Shea alleged a gun, once owned by Pendell, was used in a triple murder in 2015. Shea made the accusation on his podcast, though both Pendell and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called the accusation a lie.

In April 2017, Shea filed a motion to dismiss the defamation claims but a judge ruled that the lawsuit could continue.

“You don’t have to be a student of history to recognize the dangers that people like Matt Shea pose to our hard-won democracy,” Podlodowski writes. “I hope that Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions have not numbed you to the point where you can no longer recognize corrupt and dangerous elements inside your own walls.”

“The House Republican Caucus took the right step when you stripped him of his leadership role, now it’s time to take a strong stand,” she continued.

In November 2018, Shea lost his position as caucus chair for the House Republicans. He was replaced with Paul Harris of Vancouver, Washington.

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