State Rep. Matt Shea is no stranger to controversy. The six-term Republican lawmaker from Spokane Valley seems to embrace it.
However, the latest revelations about Shea’s actions have gotten civic leaders in Spokane so agitated they are calling for his resignation. The Spokesman-Review reported that the Spokane police chief and mayor called Shea unfit for office after leaked emails revealed he sought to conduct surveillance on local progressive leaders as part of his quest to establish a 51st state governed exclusively by Christians. This surveillance could have put people in danger. That’s not behaivor acceptable by anybody, particularly a public official.
Spokane Mayor David Condon and Police Chief Craig Meidl, in statements to The Spokesman-Review on Tuesday, joined local activists and Spokane City Council members in calling for his removal from the Legislature.
“Our nation, our state and our city only work because our citizens have granted authority to the leaders they elect to serve them,” said Condon, a Republican who previously worked for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “When an elected official’s personal actions threaten the public trust in our public institutions and foundational principles, it’s time for that person to resign. This is where Rep. Shea finds himself.”
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, also a Republican, has been calling Shea a dangerous ideologue for years.
“I truly believe it’s time for the leadership of the Republican Party in the state of Washington, his peers, to step up and have the courage and the integrity to do the right thing,” Knezovich said. “If he will not step down, they need to work to remove him.”
Clearly, Shea has said and done things that have raised serious concerns for folks in Spokane and throughout the state. In response to news reports about Shea’s participation in a private chat that discussed violence against liberals, bipartisan leaders of the state House of Representatives recently hired a team of private investigators to examine Shea’s activities.
So, it’s certainly possible there could be valid reason to seek to remove Shea from office.
However — while we strongly disagree with Shea’s dangerous rhetoric — he has been elected to office six times by voters in his district.
If Shea did nothing criminal or dangerous, it’s not the place of those outside the 4th Legislative district to prohibit voters from electing him. Nor should Shea be forced to resign because his views are out of the mainstream.
Still, those who disagree with what he says — and that would include us — should take him to task for the absurdity of his dangerous views. Spokane’s mayor, police chief and sheriff — particularly as Republicans — are doing a public service sharing their strong opinons. Voters of his district might be swayed by their concerns.
But Shea should be ousted from office if it is found in an investigation that he strayed from the law, violated accepted norms or acted inappropriately.