The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party is standing behind state Rep. Matt Shea’s decision to post a picture of himself on the Internet standing on his Democratic challenger’s property despite public outcry that cuts across partisan lines.
“This looks like a fabricated issue following a poor primary performance,” county GOP Chair Matthew Pederson said of complaints by state House hopeful Amy Biviano and others that Shea went too far with the photo, which was posted to the incumbent lawmaker’s Facebook page along with the location of a nearby intersection. Shea explained in the Facebook post that he had been door-belling the neighborhood, which was just added to the 4th Legislative District this year.
There is disagreement, even among Republicans, over Shea’s refusal to remove the picture as Biviano has requested.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, for example, said Thursday that Shea should remove the photo.
“Personally, I wish Matt would have taken it down,” said Knezovich, who has praised Biviano’s stands on domestic violence issues but insists he is remaining neutral in the race. “Matt has called law enforcement multiple times with concerns about his residence and his wife’s safety. Matt knows what it’s like to be in that public realm.”
Shea did not return calls seeking comment about the picture, but he did respond on his Facebook page to a posting about the photo on The Spokesman-Review’s Spin Control blog. Shea noted that in the primary, he beat Biviano by about 20 percentage points and accused the newspaper of “trying to rehabilitate a radical pro-choice socialist who just got trounced in the primary.”
Biviano said that she didn’t want her home well-advertised, in part, because her husband is a former federal prosecutor. Shea’s post included the closest intersection with an arterial to her home, which is a few blocks from where she lives in the southwest part of the city of Spokane Valley.
“Given his pattern of violent and threatening behavior, I’m not surprised to see Mr. Shea attempt to intimidate me in this way,” Biviano said. Accusations that Shea had a problem controlling his anger emerged last year when Spokane County commissioners debated if he should be appointed to an open state Senate seat.
Both Shea and Biviano have taken steps to make it more difficult for the public to determine where they live. Although a candidate’s address is public information, the county elections office only posts candidates’ campaign office addresses on its website. Shea listed a post office box for his campaign. Biviano listed her campaign treasurer’s address for hers.
Biviano texted the sheriff and a few others about Shea’s appearance at her door. When the picture showed up on Shea’s Facebook page, Knezovich said he let her know it was posted because he knew it “caused her some heartburn.”
Pederson said Biviano’s call for Shea to remove the photo is proof that she does “not want to debate the issues.”
“I have not heard anything of substance from her regarding policy issues during her campaign,” she said.
But Biviano said Shea is the one who is ducking debate.
“I’ve made it very clear to him (Shea) personally as well as his campaign that he just needs to name the time and the place. I’ll be there,” Biviano said.
In July, The Spokesman-Review reported that Shea was charged late last year with a misdemeanor gun charge related to a road-rage incident in Spokane. A police report said he displayed his gun during the incident and he was charged with a count based on carrying a loaded gun in his car without a valid concealed weapons permit. His attorney has since denied that the gun was loaded, even though Shea signed a document that stipulated “to the accuracy and admissibility of the police report.” The charge is scheduled to be dismissed in January if he doesn’t break any laws other than traffic rules.