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The process to fill an empty Senate seat in the Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District has resulted in “vicious personal attacks” aimed at himself, his family and “our constitutional foundations and Christian principles,” state Rep. Matt Shea, one of the candidates for the opening, said.
In a written statement to supporters over the weekend, Shea and his wife Viktoriya attempted to answer a claim that he’d gone back on an agreement to allow former legislator Mike Padden to be among the nominees sent to Spokane County commissioners. Former state Sen. Bob McCaslin, who resigned from the seat he’d held for 30 years because of health problems, said Shea couldn’t be trusted because he’d broken that agreement.
Padden and state Rep. Larry Crouse, Shea’s seatmate in the 4th, said they believed after a conversation with him that there was such an agreement, although they couldn’t say for sure that Shea believed that as well.
Shea said in the statement he “steadfastly refused to acquiesce to a backroom deal” to appoint someone to the seat.
“In our Republic, a self-appointed aristocracy who ‘know better than the voters’ has always been shunned,” he wrote in the statement obtained by The Spokesman-Review.
Shea’s office confirmed that he had sent the statement to supporters, but he did not return a request for further comment. (To read the full statement, click here to go inside the blog.)
County Commissioner Todd Mielke said he also received a copy of the statement, and the board is trying to determine how to handle it. The deadline for submitting comments ended Friday, so some people could say it’s unfair to the other candidates to add something to the record but others could argue it’s unfair to Shea to leave it out.
Mielke denied the board was being, in Shea’s words “anti-Christian and anti-veteran” in questioning his qualifications. The board has tried since last week to schedule an interview with Shea for Friday. “He still has not returned our phone calls,” Mielke said.
Republican precinct committee officers in the 4th District nominated Shea, Jeff Baxter and Roy Murry for the open seat on Jan. 15. County commissioners, who under the state Constitution must pick from those three, asked for resumes and statements from the nominees by Feb. 5 and began examining their qualifications before interviews and a possible decision scheduled for this Friday.
As part of that process, documents from Shea’s divorce from his first wife became part of the record, including a restraining order and sworn statements from his first wife that he has problems controlling his temper. At one point, she said, he was relieved of his weapon during a deployment with the National Guard in Iraq.
Shea contended in the statement the allegations were made in an attempt to gain leverage in the divorce negotiations and “I will not dignify those untrue allegations with a response, as I believe they dishonor Viktoriya” his current wife.
They surfaced in his first legislative campaign in 2008, and voters found them to be “without merit and a non-issue,” he added in the statement to supporters. “With regards to my military service, my numerous medals, decorations, commendations, and citations speak for themselves,” he wrote. “This includes a Bronze Star for service that I was awarded on the final day of my tour of duty in Iraq by my Battalion Commander.”
Mielke said that still doesn’t answer whether what his first wife said did happen, and commissioners are merely trying to determine the truth of a sworn statement filed in court. Murry and Baxter are scheduled for interviews on Friday morning and the board is scheduled to begin deliberations at 3 p.m.
Commissioners have until March 5 to fill the seat, or the appointment to replace a Republican senator in the strongly Republican district would go to Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat.
“I don’t see any scenario where that will happen,” Mielke said. “We want to finish this process up and move on.”
Prosecutor Steve Tucker and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich made their best pitches for some wiggle room on budget cuts Tuesday night. Maybe dip into the budget reserve, or borrow from money set aside for streets. After all, what good are streets if they aren’t safe to drive on. How much rainier does it have to get before you use the rainy day fund?
County commissioners responded with praise for the work that they and their staff do.
And no to any give on the budget cuts, or using the budget reserve, which would lower the bond rating and up the cost of borrowing money.
Sounded like a No? Tucker was asked outside the hearing room as TV cameras were set up.
“Sounded like a no — and a lecture on tax policy” Tucker replied.