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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Rep. Matt Shea loses more support from corporate donors

Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, speaks Jan. 13, 2017, at a gun rights rally at the Capitol in Olympia. Boeing, Allstate, the timber company Weyerhaeuser and the Washington Health Care Association have joined the list of corporate donors that say they will no longer contribute to Shea’s re-election campaigns. (Ted Warren / AP)

Boeing, Allstate, the timber company Weyerhaeuser and the Washington Health Care Association have joined the list of corporate donors saying they will no longer contribute to state Rep. Matt Shea’s re-election campaigns.

The Seattle Times on Tuesday reported those organizations will stop supporting the Spokane Valley Republican, who has faced mounting scrutiny over the past year as leaked documents have shed light on his activities outside the Legislature.

They join other big-name donors, including Avista and BNSF, that denounced Shea and requested money back from his campaign last November after he took credit for a manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War,” which condemns abortion and same-sex marriage and calls for the killing of those who violate “biblical law.”

The Times also reviewed more than a decade’s worth of Shea’s campaign finance reports, finding that since 2011 his campaign has paid at least $68,000 to the American Christian Network, a for-profit broadcasting company based in Spokane that airs his conspiracy-theory-filled radio show. According to the Times, the money Shea has spent with the network represents roughly 13% of all contributions he has taken in.

The newspaper noted that Shea reported spending $368 on airfare to attend “anti-terrorism training” in September 2018, though records on file with the state Public Disclosure Commission don’t say where he went or who conducted the training.

Shea, who was first elected in 2008, also has spent thousands of campaign dollars on audio and visual equipment, purchases of “security” products from Amazon and travel outside his district, where he has promoted plans to secede from Washington and form a 51st state called Liberty.

PDC spokeswoman Kim Bradford said the expenditures would be considered legal if they are directly related to campaign activities, and the PDC does not have guidelines on the use of radio broadcasts.

Bradford told The Spokesman-Review that the PDC does not review every expenditure reported by the thousands of election campaigns taking place in Washington each year. But the agency can demand to see receipts if it receives a complaint or suspects that an expenditure was inaccurately reported, she said.

In its reporting guidelines, the PDC says candidates are required to keep all campaign records for five years after an election, including “bank statements, deposit slips, canceled checks, checkbook register as well as receipts, invoices, copies of contribution checks, notes or documents regarding orders placed or loans, etc.”

Those records must be available for public inspection during the last eight days before an election.

In addition to exploring ways to surveil and track political opponents and participating in discussions of violence and harassment, Shea has embraced a group that claimed to prepare boys and young men for “biblical” warfare.

Spokane Mayor David Condon, a conservative, recently joined Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich in declaring Shea unfit for office. So did Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl, several Spokane City Council members, the police and deputies unions, and several local civic groups. Some have called for his resignation or removal from the Legislature.

Additionally, the state House recently hired a team of private investigators to determine whether Shea has promoted or engaged in political violence. A final report from that investigation is expected in December.

Last week, a former Shea ally leaked a document that describes plans to establish a theocratic “redoubt” territory in the aftermath of a government collapse and civil war.

Similar to “Biblical Basis for War,” the document was purportedly written by Shea and based on a series of obscure novels. It details how Christian “patriots” should quash resistance, establish an interim government, restrict immigration based on ethnicity and elevate Christianity above other religions. It also suggests the death penalty may be an appropriate punishment for adultery.

Shea’s campaign has no legal obligation to return money to donors. The Times reported that Avista, AT&T, Puget Sound Energy, the Washington Realtors Association and the Credit Union Legislative Action Fund did not receive the refunds they requested last year, while a BNSF spokeswoman declined to say whether the campaign gave back $2,000 from the most recent election cycle.