The Clark County Republican Party has apparently tapped Rep. Matt Shea, a Washington Republican accused of domestic terrorism, to emcee an upcoming event.
Earl Bowerman, chair of the organization, said Friday he asked the “noteworthy” Spokane Valley lawmaker to be master of ceremonies for an annual fundraiser in April.
“When you’re putting together an event, you want to have people that are well known,” Bowerman said. “So who is probably the most talked-about political personality in the state of Washington right now? Matt Shea.”
Bowerman said Shea has agreed. Shea could not be reached for comment. The Columbian newspaper first reported the story.
In December, Washington’s House of Representatives released a 108-page report alleging that Shea, among other things, helped plan the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. State Republican leaders subsequently expelled Shea from the caucus.
Shea has denied the allegations in interviews. He has not been charged with a crime.
Bowerman said the organization always tries to attract well-known names to speak and emcee its events. Brandon Tatum, of the Charlie Kirk-founded organization Turning Point USA, is the fundraiser’s keynote speaker.
When asked if his organization supports Shea, Bowerman said the organization respects his views on the U.S. Constitution. He also described the recent events as partisan and unfair.
“What we’re embracing is due process,” Bowerman said. “It could have been Joe Blow in the House of Representatives that this was done to, and we’d still have the same position.”
The organization’s executive board this month did officially show support for Shea. A Feb. 12 resolution provided to OPB shows the group said Shea was denied due process, and also called the legislative report “heavily biased.”
“If accepted as written, [the report] would incriminate every constitutionally minded and/or religious citizen as a domestic terrorist,” the resolution said.
The Clark County GOP also has something at stake in the fundraiser, Bowerman noted. The group has been on the hook to the Washington attorney general’s office for $37,372.50 since 2018 for improperly reporting campaign contributions and expenditures. The organization lost its offices as a result.
While it has paid “about 65 percent of that,” Bowerman said, the organization hopes the fundraiser will pay the rest of the tab.
“We want to be able to help our Republican candidates and support them. One of the ways we can do that is to have an office,” he said.