House Democrats may skip further actions against Shea
Jan. 21, 2020 Updated Tue., Jan. 21, 2020 at 8:09 p.m.
Rep. Matt Shea sits at his desk in an empty House chamber last week while Republican and Democrats met in their caucus rooms. Shea’s floor seat was moved from the middle of GOP House members to the last row after he was kicked out of the Republican caucus. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)
OLYMPIA – House Democrats may not take further action against Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea unless they get enough Republican support for expulsion, their leaders said Tuesday.
They plan to release the documents compiled by private investigators that support the conclusion in a Dec. 1 report that Shea could have engaged in domestic terrorism. Those documents should be released in the next week or two, after investigators have had a chance to prepare them for public release, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said.
“We need to have a two-thirds majority to expel him,” Jinkins said during a news conference by Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.
To reach that level, they’d need all 57 Democrats and at least nine Republicans to vote yes.
Without that level of support, Jinkins said she’d prefer not to hold hearings but will wait to hear from other House Democrats after they’ve seen the documents. Those members are troubled about the allegations, but realize the need for a super majority for expulsion, she said.
“We don’t want to have Rep. Shea take away the good work we’re doing here in the Legislature,” House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said. “The focus of the session shouldn’t be entirely on Matt Shea, it should be on those issues that people really care about.”
Investigators from the Rampart Group report alleged he was involved in activity that could be considered domestic terrorism by helping to plan protests against the federal government in Nevada and Oregon. He refused to talk to investigators but has since called the allegations lies and contends he is a victim of a tactic known as “label lynching.”
After the report was released, House Republican leadership kicked Shea out of the House GOP caucus, and leaders of both parties in the Legislature called on him to resign. He refused but was removed from his committee assignments, lost access to Republican staff and was moved out of offices controlled by the caucus. His seat on the House floor was moved from the center of GOP members to the very back row, which is split between Democrats and Republicans.
But Shea remains an elected representative from the 4th Legislative District and is entitled to an office and a legislative aide. His office was moved to a former conference room in the lower level of the domed Legislative Building. The door to the room is locked and for a while Tuesday it sported Post-It notes expressing support as well as one of the signs waved at last Friday’s Gun Rights Rally. That sign proclaims, “I stand with Matt Shea.”
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