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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Speak out against Shea’s Rebellion

“He really stepped in it,” said a Republican candidate from Seattle before an editorial board interview.

We had to correct him. This is Matt Shea every day, from his Spokane Valley redoubt.

It wasn’t a gaffe when Rep. Shea implicated a deputy sheriff in a triple homicide. He is constantly at war with the sheriff and government in general. The Seattle-based candidate can be forgiven; he’s not from around here.

But how to explain local Republican leaders remaining mum as an elected official undermines law enforcement and the rule of law? Off the record, they’ll acknowledge the madness, but, hey, sometimes they need his vote. And let’s remember Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

But it’s not like Shea extends this courtesy to others. On his campaign website, he makes some election recommendations, including this comment: “Cathy McMorris Rogers (sic) has endorsed against and/or opposed every good conservative in this area and voted for things antithetical to Constitutional Conservatism.”

But, of course, the most outrageous examples come from his attacks on Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The latest came from a podcast, where he said, “Somebody that’s in jail right now charged with a triple homicide, the gun traces back to a sheriff’s deputy and substantiating at least some of the rumors anyway that there is a connection between Ozzie Knezovich, the Sheriff’s Department and Roy Murry.”

It’s a false claim, and Shea could’ve easily avoided making it, if he weren’t consumed by conspiracy theories. Instead, he adopted the irresponsible rhetorical strategy of Donald Trump – “many people are saying” – to smear somebody with a rumor.

It’s a big deal when an elected leader slanders the sheriff and undermines authority. It’s a big deal when he supports zealots in Nevada and Oregon who point guns at law enforcement. This ideology is a cancer, and it’s eating away at the Republican Party – formerly the law-and-order party.

Credit goes to Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, who was the lone Republican to point out the problem in Thursday’s Spokesman-Review article. “It drives the ongoing discussion about distrust in law enforcement,” he said. “That’s not helping anyone.”

This isn’t a mere feud, as it has been characterized by those trying to downplay it. The Spokane Valley Council may consider changing its oath for officeholders to include a promise to “refuse to enforce any law that I deem to be unconstitutional, even if it’s upheld by the courts or I’m ordered to do so by my superiors.”

That way lies anarchy, and it captures the essence of Shea’s Rebellion.

He wants “constitutional sheriffs” who would impose their legal interpretations, which would subvert the courts and all lawmaking bodies. The Constitutionalists, Patriots and Birchers who couldn’t gain traction within their own enclaves have joined the GOP to spread this dangerous narrative.

Republicans who have refused to fight back, who have chosen to remain silent, have made it easy for them. Accommodation has become capitulation.

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