A Washington State lawmaker is losing financial support and his opponent is gaining it after media reports of the legislator's manifesto supporting a "Holy Army" to end same-sex marriage and abortion.
State Rep. Matt Shea, a Republican from the Spokane area, has admitted to distributing the document, which was leaked online Tuesday, reports The Spokesman-Review, a Spokane newspaper.
Titled "Blblical Basis for War," the manifesto says that this Holy Army, before declaring war, should offer its enemies a peace treaty if they "surrender on terms of justice and righteousness," which include agreeing to stop all abortions and same-sex marriages, and to obey the Bible. "If they do not yield - kill all males," it continues.
Shea posted a Facebook video Wednesday saying he was not advocating violence. "It was a summary of a series of sermons on biblical war in the Old Testament as part of a larger discussion on the history of warfare," he said. He added that the document is no secret and that he has discussed it publicly on several occasions.
In a Facebook post Friday, he further contended, "The attempt to suggest that notes on a series of Biblical sermons many years ago are a 'manifesto' calling for mass murder is a ridiculous smear designed (both in timing and tone) as a desperate effort to derail my service to this community and this country."
But news of the manifesto has led several of Shea's donors to reconsider. Avista Corp. and the BNSF Railway Co. asked Friday for return of their campaign contributions of $2,000 each, the maximum allowed under state law, The Spokesman-Review reports. Earlier in the week, the Northwest Credit Union Association, AT&T, and the Washington Association o Realtors had sought refunds. The campaign, however, is not required to comply with these requests.
"Rep. Matt Shea's personal actions and beliefs are ones which we cannot - and do not - condone, and we cannot be associated with them," Avista President Dennis Vermillion said in a statement to the Spokane paper. "We join others in asking Rep. Shea to return the contributions we've made to him this election cycle."
BNSF spokeswoman Courtney Wallace added, "The views expressed by Rep. Shea are in direct violation of BNSF's values and our commitment to a culture of diversity and inclusion. Our contribution to his re-election campaign was made prior to recent news accounts and without the benefit of the current reporting. In light of this new information, we will ask Rep. Shea to return our campaign contribution."
And the FBI may be investigating Shea. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told The Spokesman-Review he received the document on a flash drive about six weeks ago and immediately turned it over to the FBI. It "is not a Sunday school project or an academic study," he said. "It is a 'how to' manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990s."
Shea, a state representative since 2009, was already known for extremist views, The Spokesman-Review points out. "In 2014 and 2016, for example, he joined armed protesters occupying federal lands in Nevada and Oregon," the paper reports. "On social media, he routinely espouses far-right conspiracy theories, saying 'Marxists' and 'Islamists' have established 'counter states' to take down the U.S. government. He recently called journalists 'dirty, godless, hateful people.'" He has long had business support, though, due to his embrace of conservative economic policies.
Shea's Democratic challenger, Ted Cummings, has seen flood of donations, mostly modest, from a variety of locations since the news of the manifesto broke. They have come from Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and elsewhere, and have totaled about $1,300, according to The Spokesman-Review. That amount will probably not make a difference in the race, but it was encouraging to Cummings.
"Maybe it's too little too late," Cummings told the Washington State Wire news service. "No matter what happens, we accomplished what we set out to do: bring this man out into the open."