The man who leaked private messages involving state Rep. Matt Shea wrote a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday, publicly acknowledging his own role in the chat and accusing the Spokane Valley lawmaker of promoting a dangerous theocratic worldview.
The leaked 2017 messages showed that Shea, a Republican, offered to run background checks on left-wing activists, and other chat participants proposed harassing and assaulting political opponents at their homes, workplaces and children’s day care centers.
In recent weeks, Jay Pounder shared copies of the messages with several news outlets, including The Guardian and The Spokesman-Review, on the condition that journalists not identify him as the source.
However, Shea and two other chat participants, Anthony Bosworth and Jack Robertson, have since named Pounder online and in radio broadcasts, equating him with Benedict Arnold, the American general who was labeled a traitor after defecting to join the British during the Revolutionary War.
In his Facebook post, Pounder described himself as a devout Christian and onetime Shea loyalist who became disenchanted with the lawmaker after taking part in the 2017 chat on the private messaging app Signal.
“While I volunteered with him, I was caught up in the ideas of identity politics and didn’t know it until God showed me what true freedom and liberty are really about,” Pounder wrote.
He alleged that Shea and his allies are focused on employing “the sheer use of raw power and fear to achieve their political and spiritual ideology that only Christians should lead the United States of America. This is Christian Identity Politics and Dominionism in its purest form and it is dangerous.”
Christian Identity is an explicitly anti-Semitic and racist movement that peaked in the 1980s. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich accused Shea of promoting Christian Identity ideology in October when Shea acknowledged he had distributed a document titled “Biblical Basis for War.” The document condemned abortion and same-sex marriage and called for the killing of those who flout “biblical law.”
Shea has attended annual “God and Country” rallies at the Marble Community Fellowship in northeast Stevens County. The group is led by Barry Byrd, who in 1988 co-authored a Christian Identity manifesto referring to Jews as “anti-Christs” and condemning interracial marriage.
Shea didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday, in keeping with his usual practice of ignoring media requests. He has denied allegations of racism in the past, often noting that the Marble Community Fellowship names a black man among its congregants. And last month he voted for a new law encouraging Holocaust education.
But many of Shea’s statements do track closely with dominionism, a school of thought that says Christians alone should control earthly institutions, such as the government and media, until the second coming of Jesus. It’s derived from the Book of Genesis, in which God tells Adam and Eve to take “dominion” over the Earth and its animals.
In October, Shea posted a video on Facebook responding to outcry over his “Biblical Basis for War” document and arguing that the United States is “a Christian nation.” He has also insisted that “Marxists” and “Islamists” are conspiring to establish anti-American “counter states,” and he founded a local chapter of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America.
Pounder acknowledged he was the source of the leaked chat logs a day after the Inlander published new details from the conversation. The paper reported that Bosworth, who took part in the 2016 armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge, proposed severing a wolf’s tail and testicles and sending the parts to an environmental activist.
Pounder was identified as the chat participant who shared a screenshot of the activist’s address and contact information.
In his Facebook post Wednesday, Pounder expressed remorse for his role in the chat and said he had sought forgiveness.
House Republican leaders have said they will investigate Shea’s participation in the chat. Democrats have called for his removal from the GOP caucus.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.