An investigative report by The Guardian says that Washington state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) has supported a group aiming to prepare young men for domestic warfare in the name of Christianity.
This latest development has sparked a series of calls for him to resign his post in Olympia. The state House of Representatives has already hired an independent contractor to investigate Shea's conduct.
The wave of calls for resignation was started by the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. Others, like the Spokane Police Guild and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, have similarly called for Shea to step down.
There are currently 16 candidates running for major office in the City of Spokane and City of Spokane Valley. KREM reached out to all of them, asking whether they believe Shea is a good representative for the area and if he should resign.
Nine candidates responded as of Tuesday afternoon: Ben Stuckart, Nadine Woodward, Breean Beggs, Cindy Wendle, Lori Kinnear, Michael Cathcart, Karen Stratton, Tim Hattenburg, and Brandi Peetz.
Five of those candidates are explicitly saying Shea must resign: Stuckart, Beggs, Kinnear, Stratton, and Hattenburg.
Five candidates have been endorsed by Matt Shea on his website: Tim Benn, Tony Kiepe, Michelle Rasmussen, Arne Woodard and Bo Tucker. None of those candidates have yet responded to request for comment.
Kiepe once shared Shea's endorsement on his own Facebook page.
Below are the full statements sent by the candidates who have responded.
Ben Stuckart – Running for Spokane mayor
"I agree with the NAACP and call on every person running for office in our region to denounce Matt Shea, his threats of violence and intimidation, and ask for his immediate resignation or removal from office."
Nadine Woodward – Running for Spokane mayor
"I strongly condemn Representative Matt Shea’s divisive and extreme rhetoric and ideology. I believe in inclusive and open leadership that equally represents all residents. I call on his constituents to make their decision about what values they want represented in Olympia."
Breean Beggs – Running for Spokane Council President
"Mr. Shea's words demonstrate that he has pledged his allegiance and service to something other than our constitutionally formed government and community."
Cindy Wendle – Running for Spokane Council President
"We cannot be silent in the wake of extremist speech. We need to acknowledge the fear this instills in many of our friends and neighbors. I condemn the hurtful and radical rhetoric of Rep. Matt Shea. Those comments have no place in our community."
Michael Cathcart – Running for Spokane Council, District 1
"This is the United States of America where political disputes are supposed to be settled at the ballot box — not through intimidation or illegal surveillance. Let me be clear, I find these allegations of malicious conduct to be destructive to our community and the political process. Responsible leaders would never pursue these tactics and cannot afford to now sit quiet. We have to be able to trust our government officials. Once the on-going investigation concludes, the future of the seat can then be more thoughtfully considered. It’s my hope that Rep. Shea will participate. No matter what comes of this, my focus remains on fighting for our northeast Spokane City Council District by emphasizing responsible and common sense leadership and defending our right to live in a safe community."
Lori Kinnear – Running for Spokane Council, District 2
"There is no place in our community for this kind of hate. We pledged to uphold the constitution of the State of Washington when we took office. I stand by that pledge.”
Karen Stratton – Running for Spokane Council, District 3
"I condemn Rep. Shea’s behavior and associations.He should not be representing anyone from this area. He instills hatred and fear everywhere he goes. He needs to resign. The sooner the better. This is not the community I want for my children or grandchildren."
Tim Hattenburg – Running for Spokane Valley Council, Position 6
"I strongly condemn Matt Shea's behavior and his associations. He is not a good representative for our area as he represents a few narrow extreme views. With respect to his elected office he should resign his position."
Brandi Peetz – Running for Spokane Valley Council, Position 2
"I am deeply troubled by the hate and divisiveness that has erupted in our region. We have a responsibility to stand together against individuals and ideologies that seek to divide or perpetuate hateful rhetoric. Our community deserves honorable leadership and the right to feel safe. Divisive behaviors by any elected officials or candidates are not welcome in Spokane Valley, the community we love so dearly. As elected officials, our priorities should always be to make sure all voices are heard and are welcomed no matter their beliefs, as that makes our community a better place to live, work, and play."