Washington lawmaker faces blowback over biblical document
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in Washington state denied Friday that he is racist or a white nationalist for distributing a document describing how a "Holy Army" should kill people who flout biblical law.
State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley in conservative eastern Washington has been under fire since he acknowledged in a Facebook video last week that he had distributed the four-page document titled, "Biblical Basis for War" to some of his supporters.
The document condemns abortion and same-sex marriage and describes how those who don't follow biblical law should be punished. At one point, the document says, "If they do not yield, kill all males."
News of the document prompted several of Shea's political contributors to demand refunds of their donations.
"I have consistently and unequivocally condemned racism, anti-Semitism and white nationalism and do so again," Shea said in a Friday tweet.
He said his critics were involved in a "ridiculous smear" to derail his election to a sixth term in the state House, where he has served since his election in 2008.
"I look forward to serving again ... and fighting for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom for all of you," Shea wrote, adding it would be his final statement on the matter.
Shea has embraced far-right conspiracy theories, mingled with militia groups, visited right-wing activists who seized a wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016, and led a push to convert eastern Washington into a 51st state, called Liberty.
He represents a deeply conservative district that keeps electing him because he is effective in promoting his business-friendly agenda.
Shea, a lawyer, has said the document was merely a summary of sermon notes based on the Old Testament and that he was not promoting violence.
He did not return a message left by The Associated Press.
Critics including his Democratic opponent, Ted Cummings, and Republican Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich have called the document a guideline for Christian domination.
Other critics said the document appears to call for violence against people who do not share Shea's religious views.
Cummings said the attention appeared to trigger a wave of small contributions to his long-shot campaign for the legislative seat.
"I'm overwhelmed by the support coming in!" Cummings tweeted. "We brought this dangerous, destructive man out of the shadows, into the open."
Shea also is facing backlash from some of his donors. The political arm of the Northwest Credit Union Association, which represents more than 180 credit unions in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, gave $1,000 to Shea's campaign before the August primary but recently asked the campaign to return it.
"His beliefs do not reflect the views and values of the NWCUA, our member credit unions, or the consumers who are credit union members," Lynn Heider, the group's vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.
The Washington Association of Realtors, which donated $2,000 to Shea's campaign, demanded a refund and said its name should be removed from Shea's campaign materials.
In addition, AT&T, BNSF Railway and Avista, a Spokane-based utility, have demanded refunds of recent campaign contributions they made to Shea.
"Rep. Matt Shea's personal actions and beliefs are ones which we cannot — and do not — condone," Avista said in a press release. "And we cannot be associated with them."