At least one contributor to Rep. Matt Shea’s reelection campaign is asking him to return the company’s contribution after reviewing Shea’s social media activity.
Shea is a five-term representative for the state's Fourth District. He is up for reelection on the November ballot and faces challenger, Democrat Ted Cummings.
Shea's Libertarian views and strong political statements have resonated with voters in Eastern Washington, where the fourth district is located. He has also and drawn criticism from others, including local Republican officials.
Shea has raised more than $107,000 for his re-election campaign, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings. His competitor has raised almost $27,000, with much of that money coming from contributors in Spokane and Spokane Valley.
Cummings, a mechanical lab technician who has never held political office, said, "I'm a blue collar worker who has lived the American Dream and I want to make sure the young people coming up behind me have the same opportunities that I've had. We're pulling out all the stops to get Matt Shea out of office and a better person to take their place (myself)," on the social media site Reddit during an Ask Me Anything post. Cummings previously ran as an independent against Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in 2016.
Most of Shea’s contributions come from political action committees, followed closely by businesses.
Some of those contributors include Avista, BNSF Railway out of Texas, Washington Affordable Housing Council, Washington Beer and Wine Distributors Association, Washington Oil Marketers Association, Washington Medical PAC, Washington hospital PAC, Washington electric cooperative pac, Geico, AT&T, Washington Association of Realtors, among many others throughout the U.S. These contributors have donated $2,000, which is the maximum amount allowed under state law.
According to Spokane Public Radio, The Northwest Credit Union Association – which represents more than 180 credit unions in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho – made a $1,000 contribution to Shea’s campaign this year.
Lynn Heider, vice president of public affairs at Northwest Credit Union Association, said after reviewing Shea’s social media activity that “his beliefs do not reflect the views and values of our organization, member credit unions, or customers." Heider also said on Spokane Public Radio that the association is asking Shea to return the $1,000 contribution made by its PAC.
Collins Sprague, the Avista Corporation's senior director of government regulation, said the company is taking a “serious look at the manifesto and future contributions to Shea’s campaign,” according to Spokane Public Radio.
KREM reached out to Avista for comment and received this statement from Sprague:
Avista has traditionally contributed to lawmakers of both parties, and especially those who represent the communities where our customers and employees live and work and those who serve on committees that oversee policies that directly impact our industry and the economic well-being of the communities we serve. We take our civic responsibility seriously and want our contributions to be a positive force for good. We also expect that recipients of our contributions honor values like ours. With the information that has recently come to light, we will re-evaluate our contributions to Rep. Matt Shea moving forward.
KREM has reached out to NCUA for comment but has not heard back as of Friday morning.
On Tuesday, Shea posted on his personal Facebook account: "SAVE THE PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS." On Wednesday, he posted: WHAT'S REALLY SCARY TODAY: The ACTUAL calls for violence by the Marxists that media continues to ignore..."
Last week, Shea spoke out following a Rolling Stone article focusing on a Spokane rally that he spoke at in August. He called it a “slander smear piece” and “hit piece” against him written with a “massive leftist spin” in a Facebook Live video. He went on to say that the article is political warfare.
In the Facebook Live video, Shea also discusses a document called the “Biblical Basis for Warfare,” which was shared by Facebook user Tanner Rowe.
In a Facebook Live video, Rowe claims he received the document authored by Shea from an unnamed source close to the representative.
The four-page document references 14 different points, including how to stay within God’s will during a war, ways to know it is time to fight, things one needs to create a “Holy Army,” qualifications of a warrior, exemptions from military service and rules for war.
The document also addresses ways to confront tyranny from a biblical perspective. Shea said it does not promote violence.
“Biblical Basis for Warfare” is a “summary of sermons on biblical war in the Old Testament,” according to Shea. He also delves into just war theory, a doctrine of military ethics to ensure war is morally justified.
“This document, in and of itself, was not a secret. I’ve actually talked about portions of this document publicly,” Shea added in the video.
In July, the Seattle Times reported Shea was among three state lawmakers – including Senators Andy Billig and Michael Baumgartner – who 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.