OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state House has hired a firm to investigate whether Rep. Matt Shea has engaged in, planned or promoted political violence and to determine the extent of his involvement with groups or people involved with such activities.

The chief clerk of the House, Bernard Dean, signed a contract Monday with Kathy Leodler, a former FBI agent who is head of the Rampart Group. The firm will produce a preliminary report by Sept. 30 and a final report to the House by Dec. 1. The contract notes that the report will also "asses the level of threat of political violence posed by these individuals and groups."

Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley, came under fire earlier this year following reports in The Guardian of contents of internet chats from 2017 involving Shea and three other men proposing to confront "leftists" with a variety of tactics, including violence, surveillance and intimidation

In the chats, Shea appeared to offer to perform background checks on political opponents.

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