State Rep. Matt Shea, a Spokane Valley Republican who has been a supporter of the people who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month, cheered their acquittal Thursday by a federal jury in Oregon.
Shea didn't respond to a request for an interview, but posted on his Facebook page news of the acquittal, starting with "NOT GUILTY" followed by 10 exclamation points. A brief summation of the status of the defendants was followed by "PRAISE GOD, GREAT GREAT DAY!"
At one point during the standoff in early January, Shea was among lawmakers in the Coalition of Western States who traveled to Burns, Oregon, trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the standoff. Law enforcement officials said they had told the occupiers to leave the refuge, and there was nothing more to negotiate.
An audio tape of that meeting obtained by Oregon Public Radio indicates Shea told Harney County officials: "If there's any opportunity to save life and prevent any further escalation, I think we all agree we should take that opportunity." For a story about that meeting, click here.
A complaint by a Fairfield resident that Shea had improperly used his position as a legislator by traveling to Oregon to support the protesters was dismissed in May by the Legislative Ethics Board.