A Washington state lawmaker who wrote a manifesto justifying murder in “biblical warfare” is accused of violating campaign finance law to donate to an anti-Muslim group and promote his radio show on a conspiracy website associated with a far-right secessionist movement.
Republican Rep. Matt Shea is a conspiracy-peddling religious fundamentalist with ties to the extremist Christian Identity movement, fringe militias, and secessionist groups. Years of minor notoriety in Washington lead to national headlines last month when he was revealed to have published document outlining apocalyptic Christian warfare. Days after the document circulated, Shea won reelection. But watchdogs in the state say he may have violated campaign finance law with payments to a number of fringe groups.
Washington Public Disclosure Commission is reviewing two complaints against Shea and his campaign, Spokane’s KHQ first reported. Washington campaign finance rules allow candidates to use leftover funds to pay off campaign funds, or donate to the state treasury, their political party, or a state-registered charity.
Instead, Shea’s campaign donated to two fringe groups (neither of which are state-registered charities) and bought ad space on a blog associated with a secessionist movement, the two complaints allege.
The Southern Poverty Law Center first reported the pair of donations to far-right groups. Those donations include a $3,500 gift to Americans for America, an anti-Muslim organization the SPLC designates as a hate group. The group’s director of training is John Guandolo, a prominent anti-Muslim speaker who hosts bigoted training sessions for police officers. At a training in Texas this year, Guandolo told officers that “75 to 80 percent” of Islamic Centers in America are actually fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood and are attempting to undermine the U.S., according to recordings obtained by the Texas Observer,
Shea and Guandolo had ties before the donation. Guandolo appeared on Shea’s radio show, where they discussed Guandolo providing his anti-Muslim training to Washington police, according to the SPLC.
The Shea campaign’s second donation was $2,000 to Citizens for Free Speech, a conservative group run by Patrick Wood, a conspiracy theorist with a far-right following. Wood and Shea recently appeared together at the “Red Pill Expo” in Spokane. The expo, the name of which references a meme about far-right conversion, was reportedly a hotbed of fringe conspiracy theories and extremist speakers.
Shea also used campaign money for his radio show, one of the complaints with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission alleges. The campaign money allegedly went to American Christian Network, the Washington broadcaster that hosts his show, as well for advertisements on Redoubt News, a right-wing news outlet that traffics in conspiracy.
The site’s name is also a reference to American Redoubt, a fringe secessionist and survivalist movement that encourages followers (mostly conservative Christians) to migrate to the inland Northwest, where they will supposedly wait out the collapse of society.
The movement championed certain Obama-era anti-government figures like an armed militia that occupied a federal wildlife building in 2016. Shea was a vocal supporter of that occupation. He has also repeatedly pushed a bill in Washington legislature that would divide the state in two, placing his district in the newly created, and presumably conservative, state of “Liberty.”
Shea’s ex-wife, who accused him of abuse in court filings, said he was preparing for “civil war,” Rolling Stone reported. She said he believed he would become president and be assassinated.
If found guilty of violating campaign finance law, Shea might face penalties of up to $10,000 per offense. But the campaign has already achieved its primary goal: Shea’s reelection.
“I lost to a fascist — what can I say?” Shea’s Democratic challenger Ted Cummings told Rolling Stone after Shea’s victory.
“He’s just batshit crazy. I’m not going to be polite, and I’m not going to sugar-coat it. He’s a coward and a bully and an embarrassment — and I hope you put that in print.”