|Member of the Washington House of Representatives|
from the Position 2, 4th legislative district
|Assumed office |
January 12, 2009
|Preceded by||Lynn Schindler|
Matthew Thomas Shea
April 18, 1974
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Lisa (Jenn) Shea (2002-2008)|
Viktoriya (Vinnikova) Shea (2008-present)
|Residence||Spokane Valley, Washington|
|Alma mater||Gonzaga University (B.A.)|
Gonzaga University (J.D.)
|Branch/service|| United States Army|
Washington Army National Guard
|Years of service||1996–2000|
In October 2018 Shea acknowledged that he had distributed a four page manifesto linked to the Christian Identity movement, which called for the killing of non-Christian males if they do not follow fundamentalist biblical law. Shea was referred to the FBI 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.
Early life and education
In 1996, Shea entered the U.S. Army as a second Lieutenant, spending ten years in the service; he was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as Iraq and Kuwait. Shea left the Army in 2006 as a Captain.
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 time 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 (COWS). In an interview, Shea stated that COWS' 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 (VA) 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.
Shea organized the Spokane chapter of ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim organization designated as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.
Shea has been the focus of news articles related to angry outbursts at his legislative office, and a report claiming that he was disarmed by a commander while he served in Iraq due to anger management issues.
Differences between Shea and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich resulted in Shea stating "the Southern Poverty Law Center—and the sheriff (Knezovich) that backs them—is the most dangerous organization in this country". Knezovich is a Republican, like Shea.
Shea has frequently 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 has attracted particular attention because he is 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, "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." Spokane County Sheriff Knezovich alerted the FBI to the manifesto and claimed 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 chat 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 provided the records 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".
Matt Shea was divorced from his first wife in January 2008. His first wife Lisa was granted a protective order by a court after filing court documents complaining that Matt 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. Matt denied any physical abuse, called Lisa a "product of the foster care system", and noted that this was her third divorce. Matt Shea subsequently remarried.
In November 2011, Shea allegedly "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.
- "Washington State Lawmaker's 'Holy Army' Manifesto Prompts FBI Scrutiny". The Daily Beast. November 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
- Sokol, Chad (November 2, 2018). "Washington state lawmaker Matt Shea defends advocacy for 'Holy Army' as Spokane sheriff refers his writings to FBI". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
- "Lawmaker Says He Distributed 'Biblical Basis for War' Paper". U.S. News & World Report. AP. November 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
- Election Center: Matt Shea, Spokesman-Review.
- "2009 Cappys honor legislators and unforgettable moments | HeraldNet.com". HeraldNet.com. 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- "Legislative District 04". results.vote.wa.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Spokane County November 4, 2014 General Election". results.vote.wa.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "November 8, 2016 General Election Results - Legislative District 4 - State Representative Pos. 1 County Breakdown". results.vote.wa.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "American Christian Network". www.acn.cc. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Ron Paul: Press Release - Ron Paul Endorsed By Washington State Rep. Matt Shea". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- John Craig, Divorced candidate promotes family values, July 31, 2008.
- Dominic Holden, Know Thy Enemy: Meet the Four Men Most Obsessed with Stopping Gay Marriage in Washington State, The Stranger (June 4, 2009).
- "Home - Coalition of Western States". Coalition of Western States. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Coalition Of Western States forms to Protect Against Federal Overreach | Radio Free Redoubt". radiofreeredoubt.com. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- Sepulvado, John. "Republican Politicians Planned And Participated In Key Aspects Of Refuge Occupation". www.opb.org. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Vet fights for gun rights". Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Washington state lawmaker under fire for biblical war 'manifesto'". KIRO-FM. November 2, 2018.
- Leah Sottile, Something's Brewing in the Deep Red West, Rolling Stone (October 23, 2018).
- Katie Herzog (November 9, 2018), "Rep. Matt Shea Wants to Split Washington State in Two", The Stranger
- "McCaslin blasts Shea as possible successor for state Senate seat". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- Walters, Daniel. "Manufacturing Fear". Inlander. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- Joseph O'Sullivan (August 20, 2018). "Washington lawmaker on public-records task force calls journalists 'those dirty, godless, hateful people'". The Seattle Times.
- "After years of controversy, Rep. Matt Shea no longer part of House Republican leadership". Inlander. November 29, 2018. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- Bowden, John. "FBI investigating Washington state rep. for manifesto urging 'all males' will be killed". The Hill. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Wilson, Jason (April 20, 2019). "Republican discussed violent attacks and surveillance with rightwingers". The Guardian. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
- Wilson, Jason (August 14, 2019). "Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for 'biblical warfare'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- Sokol, Chad (August 15, 2019). "Rep. Matt Shea endorsed training children to fight in holy war". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- "Legislator pulled gun during road incident". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2017-01-17.