The Ballad of Matt Shea
We’ve seen it happen before. There was Brett Kavanaugh, attacked relentlessly and shamelessly with scurrilous, unfounded, and uncorroborated accusations from decades ago. Then there was Judge Roy Moore, again ambushed with defamatory and manufactured accusations from decades ago, all of which fell apart on closer examination. For the past three-plus years, regressives have been trying to politically decapitate the president of the United States using the same sleazy tactics.
Now we are seeing it happen again with Matt Shea, a staunch constitutional conservative in the state of Washington.
After graduating cum laude from Gonzaga Law School, Shea served two combat tours overseas, including eleven months in Baghdad as a company commander. He was awarded a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Following his military service, he turned his attention to public policy.
For the last decade, Shea has been a rising young star in conservative circles. First elected to the state legislature in 2008, he was immediately named “Rookie Legislator of the Year.” He eventually rose to the number three position in the Republican caucus. From day one, he has been an unflinching advocate for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of natural marriage, the sanctity of private property, and the sanctity of self-defense.
He has been an unrelenting opponent of government overreach, tax increases, government threats to freedom, and an unwavering, unbending defender of our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. The Washington Conservative Union gave him the “most conservative” lifetime rating among Washington lawmakers.
Shea was the co-founder of the Washington Family Foundation, now the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He’s an allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the leading First Amendment and religious liberty law firm in the country. He is the closest thing Washington has to Thomas Jefferson.
Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington gave him a “Grade F” and a “0 percent” rating. Haters are gonna hate, and Shea is now directly in the crosshairs of those who make their living off animosity and disinformation. The SPLC and the Talking Snake Media have a vitriolic and seething hatred of Shea and have labeled him a one-man hate group.
They have falsely called him everything from a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, to a neo-Nazi, the same terms they robotically and mindlessly slap on anyone who threatens regressives and their hold on power.
Shea has participated in God and Country Celebrations at Marble Country Fellowship, which has been labeled a white supremacist church in the Shea dossier (more about that in a moment), despite the fact the church has an associate pastor (Doug Taft) who happens to be black.
Well, Matt Shea is not a man the regressive left can allow to roam the earth. So they have trained their heat-seeking missiles on him in an effort to destroy him and wipe him off the face of the political map. And they’re making progress. His own party has turned on him, suspending him from the Republican caucus and treating him as if he is a carrier of the bubonic plague who must be quarantined.
He has been stripped of his committee assignments and is currently forbidden by his own political “colleagues” from using Republican staff or meeting with the Republican caucus. The leader of the Republican caucus in the House, J.T. Wilcox, has publicly urged Shea to resign. U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Shea in Congress, even joined in the pile-on. Shea’s response: “I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign.”
At least Wilcox had the decency to say that whether Shea stays in the legislature or not is up to the voters in his district. (He won his last election with 58% of the vote.)
Shea’s office in the capitol in Olympia is not where it is supposed to be. He has been hastily broomed from his 4th-floor office and dumped in an empty room on the first floor. We could wish that establishment Republicans would train some of their firepower on the enemies of freedom instead of their own troops, but it hasn’t happened yet.
So what happened? Just as Democrats seized on an innocent phone call President Trump had with the president of Ukraine, so they have tried to push Shea out by seizing on his support of ordinary Americans.
Democrats spent $120,000 of taxpayer money to hire the Adam Schiff of Washington state, former FBI agent Kathy Leodler, and her husband, Paul Leodler. They launched an investigation into Shea’s support of citizen ranchers. Their report, which you can read here, mostly consisted of reading and regurgitating a lot of leftwing media reports. The report histrionically concludes, “Shea participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States” while promoting “armed conflict” with the federal government.
All this despite the fact that he has never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime at all. If he truly is a “domestic terrorist,” operating in plain sight in the capitol building of one of our most prominent states, one can only wonder why the FBI hasn’t already sent him off in chains to Guantanamo. Perhaps because they know the “domestic terrorist” charge is a laughable accusation with zero merit.
James Comey said the Steele Dossier was “salacious and unverified.” The “Shea Dossier” is even worse.
The Democrat hatchet job dossier – their version of what Nancy Pelosi calls “the wrap-up smear” – charged that Shea “planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States government between 2014 and 2016.” The first was the 2014 standoff at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy, the second was Shea’s 2015 support for the Second Amendment rights of a disabled veteran in Priest River, Idaho, and the third was the 2016 standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon over accusations that the Hammond family had committed domestic terrorism by setting backfires that accidentally spilled onto federal land.
Let’s take them in order.
- The stand-off at the Bundy Ranch, Bunkerville, Nevada
The Bundys’ cows were confiscated by the federal government and the Bundys themselves were sent to prison for unpaid grazing fees, which according to the Constitution the federal government is not entitled to assess in the first place.
According to COWS, the explicit purpose of the Coalition of Western States is to “restore management of public lands to the States where it constitutionally belongs.” This is hardly a radical idea, since the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, only authorizes the federal government to exercise authority over land it has “purchased” (not seized) from the individual States, and only with the “consent of the legislature of the State” in which the land is located. Further, the federal government is only allowed to acquire land for “the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards and other needful buildings.” That’s it.
In other words, the only state land the central government is authorized by the Constitution to own is land needed for military installations. The term “needful buildings” in context seems to refer only to the buildings needed for military purposes, but even if it includes buildings for federal bureaucrats, it clearly does not include rangeland or forest land. The usurpers here were not the Bundys or the Hammonds but a federal government with a cavalier attitude about constitutional limitations on its power.
While at Bunkerville, Shea met with other state and local elected officials who had also come to support Bundy, including Nevada Assemblyman (“man” used generically) Michele Fiore and Greenlee County, Arizona, Commissioner Robert Corbell. “I met Matt at the Bundy ranch,” Corbell said in an interview. “And we’re talking state sovereignty and all that, and we said, ‘We’re all elected officials. Why not try and get some laws changed?’”
So these so-called domestic terrorists went to work, formed the Coalition of Western States (COWS), and by the end of 2014, Fiore, Shea, and other coalition participants had sponsored bills that would transfer federal land back to local governments in six states.
The Coalition exists to work toward erecting constitutional checks on an overreaching federal government. The elected officials who comprise the Coalition were at these locations to provide public and moral support for ranchers being bulldozed by bureaucrats from Washington. That’s not domestic terrorism, that’s constitutional advocacy. That’s not terrorism, that’s civil rights activism.
About two months after the Bundy Ranch standoff, the report notes a supposedly sinister meeting between Shea and leaders of the Oath Keepers Militia at a restaurant in Spokane. There he was overheard discussing “militias, weapons, stockpiling ammunition, the Bundy Ranch, Special Forces and snipers.” That does make it sound rather sinister.
But Shea’s firsthand report is slightly different.
“Yes, I did have dinner at a Mexican restaurant with Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes and several other army and marine veterans. I had chicken fajitas with extra cheese, Spanish rice, no beans, and a water. We discussed several issues including property rights and the developing problems in Washington State, veterans’ outreach, feeding the hungry through churches (and by implication homeless veterans), and a friend’s new toy from Cabelas.”
They did just did what guys do when they get together: talk about guns, God, politics, and toys.
Shea noted that Oathkeepers is not a militia but instead a veteran, law enforcement, and first responder organization that seeks to uphold the Constitution. What, pray tell, is Shea doing, hanging with veterans and law enforcement officers who support the Constitution? Sinister indeed.
- The standoff in Priest River, Idaho – crisis averted
As far as the “armed conflict” at Priest River? Here’s what journalist William Jasper has to say about that:
“Matt Shea, together with Idaho State Representative Heather Scott, the Bonner County sheriff, and upwards of 100 local citizens, gathered at the home of a disabled Vietnam War veteran to protest a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to confiscate the veteran’s firearms. The veteran had suffered a stroke but was not mentally or physically incapacitated. Yes, some of the veteran’s supporters were armed — which was perfectly legal — but there was no ‘armed conflict,’ or anything plausibly resembling such a description.”
The media breathlessly said Shea engaged in planning this operation, which he “understood could lead to violence and could develop into a protracted engagement with the Federal government.” That’s a lot of “coulds” in there.
The county sheriff stood with Shea in support of this prayer rally, and in the end, the VA canceled its plans to inspect the veteran’s house and everybody went home. Some Matt Shea-inspired shootout, eh?
I’ve seen pictures of this event. It was nothing but a community prayer rally for this disabled vet in his own yard. Shea is visible on the vet’s front porch leading this front lawn rally. That’s it. That apparently is what amounts to “domestic terrorism” in the fevered imagination of regressives.
- The 41-day standoff at Malheur Wildlife Refuge – Hammonds pardoned, The Malheur 7 unanimously acquitted
The third incident also involved the Bundys, who came to the support of the Hammond family in their tussle with the Bureau of Land Management over accusations that the Hammonds had committed arson while doing backburns to protect their own land from wildfires and invasive weeds. (Australia refused for decades to do backburns to reduce the fuel load. Look what happened to them.)
Protestors locked themselves inside the Refuge and the standoff lasted more than a month.
Shea went there, in his own words, on a “fact-finding mission,” not to lead an armed revolt. Apparently some in Washington state prefer legislators who act without finding out all the facts. Even media reports support Shea’s version. “There he and other Northwest lawmakers met with the occupiers as well as with local officials and the FBI.” So even the media says he talked with both sides in this dispute. How else would you pursue a peaceful resolution?
Many of the Coalition officials who showed up at the Bundy ranch in Nevada also showed up at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to show their support for the Hammonds. COWS officials weren’t there to brandish weapons and lead the charge of the light brigade. In fact, Shea was instrumental, along with Franklin Graham, in negotiating a peaceful resolution to the standoff.
In flat contradiction to the Shea Dossier, Ammon Bundy, who led the occupation (he held daily press conferences), told The Seattle Times that, although he had communicated with Shea during the lead-up to the takeover and met with him while it was going on, Shea had not helped plan the occupation.
The Shea Dossier provides zero evidence to substantiate its charge that Shea “planned” or “led covert strategic pre-planning” for either the Nevada or Oregon confrontations. Shea denies he did anything of the sort, Ammon Bundy has repeatedly backed him up, and the feds apparently agree with Ammon or they would have done something to Shea.