|Member of the Washington House of Representatives|
from the 4th district
|Assumed office |
January 12, 2009
|Preceded by||Lynn Schindler|
Matthew Thomas Shea
April 18, 1974
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Lisa Shea (2002–2008)|
Viktoriya Shea (2008–present)
|Residence||Spokane Valley, Washington|
|Alma mater||Gonzaga University (BA, JD)|
|Branch/service|| United States Army|
Washington Army National Guard
|Years of service||1996–2000|
Matthew Thomas Shea (born April 18, 1974) is an American politician, attorney and Christian supremacist. A Republican, he represents the 4th Legislative District in the Washington House of Representatives.
In October 2018, Shea acknowledged that he had distributed a four page manifesto which called for the killing of non-Christian males if a war were to occur and they do not agree to follow fundamentalist biblical law. Shea was referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigation as a result. In April 2019, Shea was removed as State House Republican Caucus Chair for advocating violence against religious minorities and offering state surveillance of political enemies to members of hate groups.
An investigative report commissioned by the House, issued on December 1, 2019, found that Shea "participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States", organized and supported "three armed conflicts of political violence", and advocated replacing the government with a theocracy and "the killing of all males who do not agree." A former ally of Shea provided documents showing that Shea and his supporters were planning to seize control of the region after the outbreak of civil war, installing Shea as governmental leader in order to institute "constitutional changes" to "sanctify to Jesus Christ". Immediately after the report was issued, Shea was removed from the House Republican Caucus.
Early life and education
Shea was in the Army ROTC program at Gonzaga University. In 1996 he entered the U.S. Army as a second Lieutenant. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, and Kuwait, and left the Washington Army National Guard in 2006 with the rank of Captain.
Shea was first elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2008, representing the 4th Legislative District, part of Spokane County. He was re-elected four times, in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Shea hosts Patriot Radio, a twice-weekly show broadcast on the American Christian Network.
Shea was a co-founder and director of the Washington Family Foundation, a socially conservative advocacy group. He was also a board member of the anti-same-sex marriage group Protect Marriage Washington, and during his first term in office introduced legislation seeking to block the recognition of same-sex marriage in Washington.
Shea is a founding member and current chairman of the Coalition of Western States. In an interview, Shea stated that COWS's goals are to "facilitate the transfer of public lands back to the state level, and to have the states and counties manage the land". During the 2014 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Shea and other COWS members traveled to Burns, Oregon, allegedly attempting to negotiate on behalf of the militants occupying the reserve. In 2015, Shea supported Idaho Representative Heather Scott, a fellow COWS member, in a protest near the home of John Arnold. Arnold had received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs stating the VA had found him mentally incompetent, and protesters worried that his right to own firearms may have been impacted by the VA's findings.
In 2011, as part of the process to replace Washington State Senator Bob McCaslin, background information about Shea included allegations of angry outbursts at Shea's legislative office and that he was disarmed by a commander while he served in Iraq due to anger management issues. Despite Shea being endorsed by the Executive Board of Spokane County's Republican Party, the county commissioners selected businessman Jeff Baxter.
Differences between Shea and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, also a Republican, resulted in Shea contending that "the Southern Poverty Law Center—and the sheriff (Knezovich) that backs them—is the most dangerous organization in this country".
Shea has often clashed with journalists, referring to reporters as "dirty, godless, hateful people" at an August 2018 gun-rights rally. He refers to local newspapers as the "Socialist-Review" (Spokesman-Review) and the "Inslander" (Inlander). Shea's contentious history with the press attracted attention because he was, as of August 2018, one of eight state legislators on a Washington Legislature task force dealing with state public records laws and exemptions to them.
"Biblical Basis for War" manifesto
In late October 2018, Shea acknowledged that he had distributed a document described as a "four-page manifesto" titled Biblical Basis for War that listed strategies that a "Holy Army" could employ. The document, consisting of 14 sections divided into bullet points, had a section on "rules of war" that stated "make an offer of peace before declaring war", which within stated that the enemy must "surrender on terms" of no abortions, no same-sex marriage, no communism and "must obey Biblical law", then continued: "If they do not yield — kill all males". Shea acknowledged the document and claimed that it was a summary of "biblical sermons on war." The Spokesman-Review reported: "After the document was leaked online Tuesday [10/23/18], the Spokane Valley Republican insisted he was not promoting violence and that the message had been taken out of context. 'First of all, it was a summary of a series of sermons on biblical war in the Old Testament as part of a larger discussion on the history of warfare.' Shea said in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday. 'This document, in and of itself, was not a secret. I’ve actually talked about portions of this document publicly.'" Sheriff Knezovich alerted the FBI to the manifesto and said that the statements made in the manifesto are consistent with a racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist ideology known as Christian Identity, which seeks to establish a "white homeland" in the US northwest.
Violent right-wing chat group
In April 2019, The Guardian published records from a right-wing chat group of four people that Shea participated in, where Shea used an alias of ‘True Warrior’ in Latin. Other members in the chat group discussed carrying out surveillance, intimidation and violent attacks on political enemies, including Antifa activists and "communists." Shea himself volunteered to conduct background checks on residents of Spokane, resulting in Shea naming three individuals. One of the chat group's members forwarded the information to The Guardian, while another confirmed the existence of the chats and acknowledged the discussion on conducting surveillance on "Antifa" people. The Guardian published a second set of emails in August that tied Shea to an organization called Team Rugged, which aimed to train young men for "biblical warfare".
An investigation commissioned by Washington House of Representatives reported, on December 1, 2019, that Shea had planned and participated in domestic terrorism on at least three occasions. This included his participation, organizing, planning, and promotion of the 2014 Bundy standoff in Nevada, the 2015 armed conflict in Priest River, Idaho, and the 2016 armed seizure of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Shea led a delegation of right-wing legislators from Oregon, Washington and Idaho that met with law enforcement on January 9, 2016, in Burns, Oregon and were appraised of confidential intended law enforcement strategies for dealing with the refuge occupiers. Shea then disclosed those details to Bundy, according to the report.
On December 19, Shea was accused of domestic terrorism in a report released by the Washington State House of Representatives. House leadership forwarded the report to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington and the FBI. Sheriff Knezovich stated that he believed there was enough evidence "to charge Shea with domestic terrorism, if not treason." The sheriff also stated that he was worried that arresting Shea would lead to an armed standoff, and that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding this concern. Shea issued a statement to local news station KREM saying he had "been denied any opportunity to review and respond to its results which are still unknown to me." That day, he wrote in a Facebook post: "Like we are seeing with our President this is a sham investigation meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to disarm and destroy our great country. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign."
Shea married Lisa Jenn in 2002. They were divorced in January 2008. She was granted a protective order by a court after filing court documents complaining that Shea treated her "as a possession," and was physically and emotionally abusive. Lisa's brother-in-law testified in court documents that he saw Matt grabbing Lisa "very hard and violently" and pushed her into a vehicle. She attested that Matt "insisted she walk on his left side because his sword, if he had one, would be on his right side," forbade her from writing a church bulletin, and protested that he would not seek profitable employment despite being a lawyer. Shea denied any physical abuse, called his ex-wife a "product of the foster care system", and said it this was her third divorce. Shea married his second wife, the Ukrainian-born Viktoriya Vinnikova, shortly after the divorce.
In November 2011, Shea "pulled a gun during a confrontation with another motorist" in what police reports described as an incident of road rage. Shea was initially charged with possessing a loaded handgun in a vehicle without a concealed weapons permit; the charge was ultimately resolved under a "stipulated order of continuance," in which "Shea paid a $75 fee and agreed that the information in the police report is correct" and the charge was dismissed after the passage of one year with no criminal violations.
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