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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

House leaders get Shea report, but public release delayed

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, addresses a gun rights rally on the Capitol Campus in Olympia in April. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Top House members of both parties were informed Wednesday of the results of a four-month investigation of Rep. Matt Shea, but it may be next week – at the earliest – before the public sees some version of that report.

Members of the House Executive Committee, which consists of three top Democrats and two top Republicans, were briefed by phone on the report from Rampart Group LLC, a private firm based in Silverdale, Wash.

The committee rarely meets in person and usually gets its information about administrative issues by phone from House staff. It is exempt from public meeting rules that govern other House committees.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, a member of the committee, said Democrats plan to meet early next week with their caucus leadership about the report and then relay the information to members. Some version of the report or an executive summary will be released to the public after that, and House leaders will determine whether identifying information about witnesses needs to be removed.

“We’re trying to figure out the timeline,” Sullivan said Wednesday evening. “We don’t have an official plan in place.”

The investigative team, headed by a former FBI special agent and a former law enforcement officer, was hired in July to determine whether the six-term Valley legislator engaged in, planned or promoted political violence against individuals or groups, and to identify the extent of his involvement with groups or individuals who promote or plan political violence.

The focus of the investigation is described as one of actions, not political views.

Earlier this year, reports of a 2017 online “chat” that included Shea first surfaced in the Guardian and later were expanded by The Spokesman-Review that indicated the Valley legislator joined the discussion in which others suggested violence against left-wing protestors.

The other participants said the talk of violence was “tongue in cheek” and that Shea joined the conversation later. But a portion of the chat obtained by The Spokesman-Review indicated he joined the discussion on the same day one participant suggested confronting activists in their homes and work places and five days before another described slamming a woman’s face into a traffic barrier and shaving her head with a military combat knife.

Based on transcripts of the online “chat,” there’s no indication Shea advocated violence himself, although at one point he did offer to do background checks on political opponents.