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

House Democrats split on any action regarding Shea

Rep. Matt Shea, who normally declines interviews with traditional news media, gives an interview to a representative of a gun rights organization after speaking to a rally on the Capitol steps on Jan. 17, 2020. Democratic leaders of the state House of Representatives may not take any further action against Shea, a Republican lawmaker who has been accused of ““domestic terrorism,”” unless they get enough Republican votes to expel him. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – House Democrats remain divided about what action, if any, to take regarding Republican Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, and allegations from independent investigators that some of his actions outside the Capitol could be considered “domestic terrorism.”

At a meeting of the House Majority Caucus last week, Democrats remained “incredibly troubled” by the report that was released in December and hundreds of pages of documents released early this month, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said.

“We did not come to a conclusion about what to do,” Jinkins told members of the Capitol press corps in a weekly question-and-answer session.

Some Democrats are worried that a push for expulsion proceedings would give Shea added status among those who support him, she said. It would be akin to giving oxygen to a fire, she added.

“There are others who feel that he’ll be a martyr whatever we do … and we have an obligation to speak out and take action,” Jinkins said. “We’re in the place of trying to navigate what we want to do.”

Expulsion would take a two-thirds majority of the House, which means if all Democrats supported that action they would need at least nine Republicans to join them.

House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, of Yelm, said Republican leaders have taken the steps they thought appropriate by removing Shea from their caucus and not allowing him the use of GOP staff. Leadership has the right to say who is inside their caucus, but voters of the district should say who represents them in the House, he said.

Jinkins said many Democrats still want to make a statement about the allegations contained in the report, even if it has to wait until the end of the session.

“I’m not ruling that out. I’m not ruling out something happening before then,” she said.