OLYMPIA, Wash. – The 2020 legislative session opened in Olympia Monday without a clear plan of action to deal with Rep. Matt Shea, the Republican from Spokane Valley accused of domestic terrorism.
Shea was removed from his Caucus last month after a House sanctioned report concluded he “planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence” against the United States government.
Shea rejected the report as a lie, calling it an “ugly and corrosive feature of our modern political landscape.” He has no plans to step down and no criminal charges have been filed.
“I look forward to continuing to represent the people of my district,” Shea said in a statement through his attorney. “I do so with a renewed sense of the importance of our Constitution’s protections for the powerless against the vindictiveness of the powerful."
Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the Democrat-controlled House will force a vote on the issue. It would take a two-thirds majority to remove Shea from office – meaning nine Republicans would have to side with Democrats (assuming all Democrats vote in favor of removal).
So far, Republicans have been reluctant to take the step.
“As I’ve said, we in the House get to decide what happens inside the Chamber. I believe the voters get to decide who is in the chamber,” House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) told Q13 News. “I’ve taken the most comprehensive action in the matter that is possible for a caucus leader to do to show that the House Republican Caucus will not be associated with these actions.”
Jen Waldref, communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, said they expect to receive an update on Representative Shea later in the week.
"No decisions have been made about a possible vote on expulsion, but the Speaker has been clear that the Democrats alone cannot expel Rep. Shea," she wrote in an email.
But for Democrats, even a failed vote would serve to put Republicans on the record on Shea.
Will Casey with the Washington State Democratic Party said he would like to see Republicans in the House show voters where they stand ahead of the 2020 election.
“I think it would be wise for people to know where their representatives stand as we head into November, whether that’s through a vote or folks like yourself asking them questions on the record,” he said in Olympia Monday. “I think it’s important that every legislator take a position on this issue.”
Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Whatcom County), who has a friendly relationship with Shea, told Q13 News that he believes Shea is likely to win re-election this year, despite the controversy surrounding him.
“The people of the 4th Legislative District elected him to come represent them. He’s been doing it for many years,” he said. “There’s an election coming up in 2020 … and I think he’ll get re-elected in that district.”
Editor’s note: This Sunday on “The Divide,” Brandi Kruse travels to Spokane Valley to meet Matt Shea supporters and interview his opponents in the upcoming election. “The Divide” airs Sundays at 7:30am on Q13 FOX.