UPDATE March 3rd: Steve Beren, a spokesman for Washington State GOP Chair Susan Hutchison, contacted us this morning and said she wasn’t involved in removing RINO Ben Oakley from the Spokane County GOP. Also, Mr. Beren said that the Roanoke Conference is its own independent entity and not an event sponsored by the Washington State Republican Party (even though it turns out much of the party’s leadership attended!)
While the Karl Rove elitist attack on true conservatives at the national level has backfired, the attack is also being pressed at the state level too. Case in point: State Representative Matt Shea a 3- term incumbent of Spokane Valley, Washington, is facing an establishment Republican primary opponent apparently recruited and supported by the Spokane County Party Chairman and another sitting Republican State Representative, Kevin Parker.
A Tried and True Consistent Conservative
Shea is considered by many as the leader of the Freedom Movement in Washington State and the “gold standard of conservatism.” He has also spoken across the country at various rallies on everything from State Sovereignty to his Step-by-Step Plan for Freedom Parts I and II (and even introduced former Presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul to a local rally of over 3,000 in 2012.)
Rep. Jeff Holy, a well-respected fellow Republican legislator and retired Spokane Police Detective, describes Matt Shea as “open, honest, and a hard worker.” “If Matt tells you he is going to do something, it is going get done. He will work hard to see it through.”
As the architect of the “Freedom Agenda”, in just three years, Shea has built an impressive network of over 50,000 activists statewide using social media (and, over the last 6 years, help grow his “Freedom Team” of stalwart conservative Representatives from 2 to 10 in the State House.) With their help, the Freedom Agenda has become the most successful slate of conservative bills in over 15 years in Washington. The scorecard and outline is impressive and can be viewed here. This year alone, Freedom Agenda bills were the subject of 20 national news stories, including bills to stop the NSA and severely restricting government use of drones.
Shea, an Army combat veteran, was awarded the bronze star and was the top rated officer in his unit on 3 separate occasions. Shea’s resume is indeed extraordinary. Everything about him, from the outspoken stands for Christianity, freedom, and liberty he takes on his radio show to his reputation for character and integrity as a constitutional attorney, is characteristic of a born leader.
During his first year in office, Rep. Shea was named “Rookie Legislator of the Year” by the liberal Everett Herald and was elected to House Leadership in 2012. In 2013, he was named “Defender of Freedom” by the Citizen Alliance for Property Rights, received an A+ rating by the National Rifle Association, received a rare state level endorsement from Gun Owners of America, and was rated the state’s most conservative legislator by the Washington Conservative Union. To top it off, he was credited with orchestrating the defeat of gun control in Washington, even though the Republicans are in a 6-vote minority in a very liberal state.
So Shea is just the kind of guy the Republican Party wants in office, right?
Scandal Rocks the Spokane County Party; Chairman Resigns
Apparently, not all Republicans think so. In January, the Washington State Republican Party held its annual confab known as the Roanoke Conference. During the conference, Ben Oakley, the Spokane County Party Chair, introduced someone he called “Matt Shea’s primary opponent” to several dozen lobbyists and party leaders asking for the lobbyists’ “support” in the next election. Both the Washington State and Spokane County Republican bylaws prohibit (if not in fact, definitely in spirit) a sitting party Chair recruiting against a sitting incumbent.
Two lobbyists confirmed the events at the Roanoke Conference, and one added “I then promptly asked him why he (Ben) was doing this because it would divide the party and potentially cost the House Republicans a chance at the majority by stopping Shea from helping in other races.” After texts and phone calls began pouring into Republican House leader Dan Kristiansen’s office challenging what happened, Ben Oakley was asked to step down by State Party Chair Susan Hutchison. Oakley announced his resignation in an email: “I will be…stepping down as Chair of the Spokane GOP. For reasons that I did not plan or expect, I will be taking a new position over in Bellevue…”
Mr. Oakley is no stranger to controversy. Shortly after the horrible tragedy at Columbine, he stated in an interview with Salon, speaking about the two shooters: “They’re freaks…They were in the Trench Coat Mafia, and that’s something around our school that we consider freaks…Nobody really liked them, just cause they…The majority of them were gay. So everyone would make fun of them.”
Following the example of Karl Rove, Oakley, while touting his ability as a fundraiser, piloted a flat-line fundraising effort in 2013. Since assuming the position as Chair, fundraising for the Spokane County Party dropped precipitously from $64,000 net in 2012 to $24,000 net in 2013. Mr. Oakley declined repeated requests for an interview.
When asked, Shea stated “I am deeply saddened by the unethical, dishonest, and divisive behavior of Chair Oakley. This is another unfortunate scandal for the party. As Chris Christie discovered political intimidation backfires. The Karl Rove elitists seek to divide the party and purge true conservatives instead of using their energy to unite around the principles of lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Simply put, elitist Republicans are destroying the party, and it is our job to make sure they don’t succeed.”
Shea’s opponent is a new resident of the 4th Legislative District (just in time for the 2014 elections). While it is unclear whether he moved into the district or was re-districted in, most people in Spokane Valley don’t take kindly to strangers. Indeed, the public support for Shea’s opponent does not appear to be there, as he recently loaned himself $6,000 to start the campaign instead of raising the donations independently.
Establishment Republican Representative Kevin Parker Behind the Plot?
Rep. Kevin Parker only has a 79% rating from the Washington Conservative Union–nearly 20 points below Shea–and has swerved to the left on globalization, the expansion of socialized healthcare entitlement programs, the environment, education, and political correctness. Mr. Parker is also a proud Rodel Fellow of the notorious globalist organization The Aspen Institute, a well-known breeding ground for anti-freedom elitists. The organization boasts anti-freedom leaders like Henry Kissinger (Lifetime Trustee) and Madeleine Albright [Board of Trustees] and is even supported by Karl Rove himself. Under the Institute’s “Current Principles,” “environment, education, and health are initial areas for cross-fertilization” for leaders and policy.
So it is no surprise that Washington State Public Disclosure Commission documents confirm that Ben Oakley was on Rep. Parker’s payroll.
Mr. Parker denies any involvement in the recruitment of Shea’s opponent. However, several major Republican donors confirm receiving phone calls from Shea’s opponent “asking for money and support” stating “I’m a friend of Kevin Parker and he thought I should call you.” Several local business owners also confirm that Shea’s opponent is introducing himself as a “friend of Kevin Parker.” Mr. Parker declined repeated requests for an interview.
All Politics is Local
Shea went on to show his ability as a statesman. “I have personally spoken with Rep. Parker to ask him why he is a part of this. He told me that I have ‘character issues.’ Well there they go again…character assassination is a favorite Rove tactic. Seriously, I will continue my efforts take the high road and bring the Party together around principle, not crony-capitalism politics and pragmatism. For six years the enemies of freedom have tried to attack my character just like they have with Congressman Steve Stockman, Senator Rand Paul, and Senator Ted Cruz. Every time by the grace of God they have failed. All politics is local, the people that know me, know better.”
As the election season heats up, one thing is for sure: true conservatives will be applying a lot of heat to the establishment in the states’ legislatures. So don’t just keep your eye on the national level. The next generation of true conservatives at the State level are under attack too as they try to bring the federal government to heel.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom