SPOKANE, Wash. — Rolling Stone magazine published an article on Tuesday about Washington state Rep. Matt Shea (R) and his appearance at a rally in Spokane's Franklin Park to protest Initiative 1639.
The Liberty or Death Rally was held on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 11 a.m. Spokane Conceal Carry organized the rally to address concerns about I-1639, which appears on the November ballot in Washington state.
At the rally, Shea spoke about the initiative, while calling media, including local outlets in Spokane, "dirty, Godless, hateful people."
The I-1639 ballot measure is a gun safety initiative that would raise the purchase age of semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, require enhanced background checks, and enact a waiting period to purchase a firearm in Washington state.
The Rolling Stone article sets the scene for the rally in Spokane: Shea looking out at a “mostly male crowd in militia T-shirts” carrying Don’t Tread on Me flags.
“A handful carry AR-15s and are dressed in tactical camouflage vests loaded up with ammunition,” author Leah Sottile wrote.
Sottile attended the “Liberty or Death” rally over the summer, where about 11 people protested to draw attention to a package of state gun-control measures under consideration.
At that rally, Shea said the common theme of both Marxism and tyranny is "always to disarm the people," Sottile writes. She also wrote that he mentioned his military service in Iraq and Bosnia but “stayed away from his expensive education at nearby Gonzaga University.”
At the rally, Shea announced he was fed up with the media and “the left.”
Sottile wrote that he directed his gaze toward a few reporters and yelled, “I’m tired of the media! And I’m tired of those on the left saying God-given inalienable rights don’t seem to matter.”
Sottile also spoke with Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who endorsed Shea in 2008 and 2010 but has not since.
“What I hear from people is, ‘We don’t care about his character, he votes the way we want him to,’ ” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told Rolling Stone the afternoon before the park rally. Knezovich endorsed Shea in 2008 and 2010, but hasn’t since. “I should have stuck with my gut,” he says. “When I first met him I had this bad vibe about him.”
In July, the Seattle Times reported Shea was among three state lawmakers – including Senators Andy Billing and Michael Baumgartner – blocked constituents or reporters from their social media pages.
The senators provided reasons for blocking constituents and reporters but KREM was unable to find the circumstances surrounding Shea blocking certain users.
In 2016, Shea was also involved in a defamation lawsuit. Spokane Deputy Travis Pendell filed the lawsuit after Shea alleged a gun, once owned by Pendell, was used in a triple murder in 2015. Shea made the accusation on his podcast, though both Pendell and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called the accusation a lie.
In April 2017, Shea filed a motion to dismiss the defamation claims but a judge ruled that the lawsuit could continue.