Happy Holidays!

Dear Group,

I plan to take off the next two and a half weeks. The next time I plan to send out an email is Thursday, January 3, the same day the new U.S. Congress, the 116th, is seated. On that day all the legislation that didn’t become law in the last two year Congress, the 115th, resets. A congressperson has to put a new copy “in the hopper” to get started again. I’ve heard in the last two years there were around 700 bills passed by the House which the Senate never took up. I’m sure we’ll see many of these bills proposed again, but with less chance of getting by the House again this time around.

In 2019 there will be primary and general elections for municipal officials. These are elections for which voter turnout is typically low. It will behoove us to learn about the candidates and issues and to participate. This is where it starts. Personally, I find it much easier to gather information on candidates and issues nationally and state-wide than on counties, cities, and towns. Wikipedia and Google and even Ballotpedia are much less granular than a full understanding of our politics requires. I hope to clarify local civics for myself. Part of that process for me is writing about what I learn, so expect some missives on local government. 

I want to leave you with one striking example of the bias of Fox News. Tuesday evening after the surprise video of Trump, Pence, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schemer sparing over Trump’s border wall I listened to and read a variety of media. When I got to FoxNews.com I found the following article posted at the top of their page as if they were reporting breaking news, not offering an opinion: “On border security, Pelosi and Schumer play politics while Trump fights to protect us.” (I looked for but did not see the small print “opinion” that appears with the web article now.) If you have ever wondered why conversing with a Fox News listener is like conversing with someone from another planet, reading this article will will offer an explanation. A constant with Fox News is the blurred line between opinion and reporting.

Enjoy the holiday season. I wish us all…and our country…well. Back on January 3. 

Keep to the high ground,


Hastert’s Legacy

Dear Group,

Newt Gingrich, The Man Who Broke Politics (The Atlantic), was followed by Republican Dennis Hastert. Hastert served as Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007. He resigned to become a lobbyist rather than serving in the minority in the House following the Democratic takeover in 2006. According to wikipedia [with a reference therein] Hastert “was the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history, and is currently the highest-ranking holder of a political office in U.S. history to have served a prison sentence.” He is also the man whose name is attached to the Hastert Rule:

Under House rules, the Speaker schedules floor votes on pending legislation. The Hastert Rule says that the Speaker will not schedule a floor vote on any bill that does not have majority support within his or her party — even if the majority of the members of the House would vote to pass it. The rule keeps the minority party from passing bills with the assistance of a minority of majority party members.

The standard application of the Hastert Rule in the U.S. Congress is a barrier to bi-partisan cooperation and a reason for the dysfunction of Congress of which so many Americans disapprove.

The same Republican tactic applies to the Senate. S. 422: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. It is a two page bill that clarifies “Served in the Republic of Vietnam” to include the “territorial seas of such Republic.” The effect is to provide service-connected medical coverage to veterans for certain diseases related to the use of herbicides, veterans who served in Vietnam’s coastal waters.

You can see Jon Tester (D-MT) give a short speech on the subject here. The House already passed a similar bill with same name but a different number, H.R. 299, on June 25, 2018 (382 for to 45 against). Even McMorris Rodgers voted for it. The Senate bill has 53 co-sponsors, 38 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and 1 Independent. It seems clear other Senators would vote yea and carry the bill over the 60 vote hurdle if the bill came to the Senate floor. Time is limited, however. The whole process resets with the seating of the new Congress on January 3, 2019. Govtrack gives S. 422 only a 4% chance of becoming law. Mitch McConnell, as Senate majority leader, is unwilling to schedule a vote. It seems this is a Senate version of the Hastert Rule, a great contribution to Republican induced Congressional gridlock for which every Senator is made to bear the blame in the public’s perception of Congress.

McConnell would probably argue the Senate has more important things to accomplish before year’s end, like avoiding a Trump-led government shutdown over border wall funding. Perhaps he’s right, but if the Republican majority Congress cannot get its act together to deal with a simple piece of legislation like The Blue Water Navy Bill why should we believe it would be any speedier in reviewing rules painstakingly established by executive agencies? Remember that the next time you hear McMorris Rodgers advocating for the REINS Act (Regulations of the Executive in Need of Scrutiny). (CMR is a co-sponsor of this long running Republican attempt to cripple executive agencies.)

My condemnation of the so-called Hastert Rule is a little unusual since I’m applying it to the Senate, whereas the Speaker of the House who  follow the rule. The Senate has become more partisan and less collegial under McConnell. Now the same partisan, winner-takes-all principle in the House is on display in the Senate as well. In the House, Democratic Speakers in general have not gone along with “the majority of the majority” concept, whereas Republican Speakers have. If you’re interested in an accounting of that statement visit “Speakers’ views and use of the policy” in the wikipedia article on the Hastert Rule. Partisan gridlock is owned by the Republicans.

Keep to the high ground,


Shared Reality

Dear Group,

I offer a snippet from Doug Muder’s Weekly Sift from last Monday, December 10, entitled “Making Truth Matter” For those of you who have not yet signed up for Mr. Muder’s Weekly Sift, I encourage you to do so in the left hand column of the article linked above. I guarantee more thought and reason in one of his his posts than you will find in 99% of the emails you receive, that is, if your emails are anything like mine.

The next four paragraphs from Muder’s December 10 post express my primary fear over where Trump and the Republicans are taking us. Increasingly, I am convinced our attitudes and values are shaped by what we share, read, and watch, material we mostly passively absorb from TV, radio, magazines, newspaper and people with whom we interact each day. Insofar as 1/3 of the American populace lives in a non-self-critical, non-self-checking media bubble, we are headed for trouble.

“This week’s featured post is “Why All the Bush Nostalgia?” In the end, I [Muder] find that what I’m nostalgic for is a shared reality that is accepted by both major parties and forms the playing field for our political contests. Now 1/3 of the country lives in its own reality and is virtually unreachable.

“The David Roberts interview…plays a key role in that post. [click here for the full transcript of the interview of David Roberts by Chris Hayes] Near the end of that conversation, Chris Hayes sums up: The problem isn’t with conservatives as individuals — Roberts has just said that they’re not dumb — but with the social processes of the conservative community.

Remember: Everyone’s got confirmation bias. Everyone does motivated reasoning. We’re all doing that. But in the divorce, one side got the actual institutions that do a pretty good job of producing knowledge, and the other side didn’t get any of it. That’s the key here. … The institutional universe of developed rigorous processes of attempting to get at the truth, the entirety of that, more or less, ended on the left side in the epistemic divorce.

“By “institutional universe” he means the scientific community, academia, and mainstream journalism.

As I read the above extended quote I kept hearing a characterization of universities by a Bonner County Commissioner as “liberal playgrounds”. That man, Glen Bailey, lost his seat to a further far right wing ideologue, a “cowboy pastor” and Redoubter in the Idaho primary election last May.

Keep to the high ground,

The Statistic v. the Story

Dear Group,

Some days ago I listened to a program segment on National Public Radio on KPBX on suicide and our declining average lifespan in the United States. I like numbers and I firmly believe there is truth to be found in properly gathered data and statistical analysis. The word “statistics” has been in use since the mid 17th century. It is derived from the word “state” to describe demographic and economic data gathered by the government to better understand the state. Statistical analysis of the data the state gathered came later with the development of probability theory and the branch of mathematics we call statistics. 

When we hear a comprehensive presentation of a topic on a radio segment, what do we retain? I came away from the KPBX presentation on suicide with only two things, a number and story. Since I was driving at the time I couldn’t take notes, and, to my great frustration, I cannot locate an audio copy of the presentation I heard…so I’m left with my fragmentary memory. 

The number I did retain was 70,000. My recollection from the radio program was 70,000 was the current annual number of suicides in the U.S. It’s a big number and getting bigger. But as a stand alone statistic, does it leave an impression? The mental stickiness of the number 70,000 can be improved if the listener remembers there are around 35,000 annual automobile fatalities in the United States or remembers roughly 58,000 Americans died in the entire Vietnam War. I had to look up both those comparison numbers. Stop and think, do you have a mental reference point for the number 70,000?

In contrast, I retain a story, a vivid image from the KPBX presentation, an image that keeps popping up in my mind, even though the details of the story presented may themselves be fragmentary. The narrator said with the extraordinary number of deaths it was becoming more and more common that dead bodies must be transferred to a funeral home from one small town to another twenty-five or thirty miles down the road. Why? Because the refrigerator space that was once adequate in the funeral homes of many small towns is now often full.

I grew up a half a block from a funeral home. We lived next door to the funeral director’s family. My uncles lived on a farm and were occasional grave-diggers for the country cemetery across the road. I vividly remember the turmoil in my extended family when I was five and my grandmother died. I cannot get out of my mind the image of a family grieving being told the body of their loved would have to be shipped down the road because there’s no more room…

Such is the power of story…and the failure of numbers to impress and stick with us. 

When a story is presented there usually little argument. When a statistic is presented the reflex of the listener is often to attempt to deny or diminish the significance of the data rather than engage over what the data means. Data is essential to truth and understanding–but it needs to serve a supporting role to our values and our experience. 

We need to tell stories. Stories sink in where statistics often bounce off. We were programed this way. It is not by accident that Jesus taught in parables, not Roman census numbers. Every Sunday morning people in this country go to church and hear stories from the pulpit. That fact was not lost on the Republican/Libertarians when, especially in 1990s under Gingrich, some of the church-going public began to hear stories welding christianity to Republican politics. 

Keep to the high ground,


Matt Shea and the SPLC

Dear Group,

KREM 2 on November 27 aired a segment on Matt Shea (R-Legislative District 4, City of Spokane Valley north to Mt. Spokane) losing the leadership position he held last year as the Minority Caucus Chair in the Washington State House. (the TV segment is worth watching) Apparently, there are enough reasonable WA State Republican Legislators to respond to the national coverage of Mr. Shea’s “Biblical Basis of War” manifesto, even though most of them do not want to talk about it.

Jim Camden covered the Republican Party Caucus leadership shift in an article on November 26 in the Spokesman:

Asked whether the controversy had anything to do with the change in leadership [dropping Shea], Wilcox   [(R-Yelm)the House minority leader] said House Republicans “don’t share caucus debates.” But he said Shea may be named the ranking Republican on one of the House committees next month when those panels are selected, and a caucus chairman can’t also serve as the ranking minority member of a committee.

It remains to be seen whether the Shea’s loss of position is mostly cosmetic or substantive.

Late last week and this weekend a link circulated on the internet to a Southern Poverty Law Center article spotlighting Mr. Shea on the national stage once again. I’ve copied and pasted it below. The Southern Poverty Law Center is the premier U.S. non-profit organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists. The SPLC was instrumental in spotlighting the Aryan Nations in north Idaho in the 1990s and 2000s. 

It seems Mr. Shea may have tripped himself up with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission by using his leftover campaign funds to donate to various non-501(c)(3) hate groups. 

One chilling aspect of this for me was a quote out of a Rolling Stone article: Shea’s ex-wife said, “Shea believed he would one day be president of the United States, that he would be assassinated and that he ‘predicts a civil war.'” (This comment was made long before Donald Trump became President and began yelling “Fake News!”) The other chill came over me when an internet search for the “Southern Poverty Law Center” revealed numerous websites disparaging the work of the SPLC as manipulated by the far left. Below I’ve pasted a copy of the SPLC article on Mr. Shea, without further commentary. It is worth the read for the detail, the background. and the links.

Keep to the high ground,


Embattled conspiracy theorist and Washington state Republican Rep. Matt Shea has been skirting Washington state law to funnel campaign contributions to far-right nonprofit groups in Colorado and Arizona, a Hatewatch investigation reveals.

Shea uses his office and campaign funds to spearhead a partitionist effort to split Washington into two states, and may have violated state laws by using surplus campaign funds to make at least $5,500 in contributions to far-right nonprofit organizations that are not registered as charities with the Washington Secretary of State. State law requires charities to be registered with the state to receive surplus campaign funds.

Shea is a vocal supporter of the anti-public lands extremist movement, is closely affiliated with members of the antigovernment militia movement, is a celebrity within the antigovernment-inspired American Redoubt movement and for years has taken to propagating anti-Muslim bigotry including forming the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America.

Shea’s surplus campaign account made a $3,500 donation Sept. 10 to the anti-Muslim hate group Americans for America of Centennial, Colorado. The group hired John Guandolo, a former FBI agent well known for his anti-Muslim activism, as director of training.

Guandolo was paid $123,000 by the group in 2017 for “training of law enforcement personnel in the field,” according to a report based on the organization’s 2017 tax returns that was published this week in the Texas Observer. Guandolo has appeared on Shea’s Patriot Radio broadcast where Shea expressed interest in bringing Guandolo to Washington to provide law enforcement training.

Shea also tapped surplus campaign funds to make a $2,000 donation on Aug. 24 to Citizens for Free Speech, a Mesa, Arizona, nonprofit. Citizens for Free Speech is operated by Patrick Wood and received IRS tax approval earlier this year. The organization’s website states its purpose is to promote “men and women of moral and religious integrity to assert their influence in local communities by actually doing it.” Wood is widely followed by antigovernment activists and antisemitic white supremacist groups, and the SPLC has identified him as the foremost authority on the “one world” conspiracy theory.

Washington allows candidates to deposit excess campaign contributions into a surplus account. Unlike campaign accounts where funds can be used for election expenses, surplus fund accounts are more tightly restricted. Surplus funds can only be used to refund campaign contributions, transfer funds to a political party or caucus political committee, be deposited in the state Treasury, be used for future political campaigns, reimburse elected officials “for nonreimbursed, public office-related expenses” or be donated to nonprofit organizations registered with the state.

The contributions to the two nonprofits reflect Shea’s ties across the gamut of the American far-right.

Washington state election officials earlier this week opened a separate inquiry into additional campaign expenditures from Shea’s surplus account, the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) said Wednesday.

The PDC has given Shea until Dec. 19 to respond to a citizen’s complaint over his use of surplus campaign funds to pay for radio broadcasts, advertising and purchase of broadcast equipment, PDC spokeswoman Kim Bradford said.

The funds were used to pay for radio broadcasts on Shea’s Patriot Radio show on the American Christian Network that operates six AM and FM stations in eastern Washington. Shea also used the funds to purchase advertising on Redoubt News, a website which the SPLC lists as an antigovernment, conspiracy propaganda organization.

He acknowledged in a rambling Facebook video that he wrote and distributed a religious manifesto called the “Biblical Basis for War.” The document and his explanation generated national press and infuriated some major contributions including at least seven who have asked for refunds. These contributors donated $10,500 of the $109,000 he collected in 2018.

The four-page document states that before a declaration of war, the enemy must be given the opportunity to “stop all abortions,” end “same-sex marriage,” eliminate “idolatry or occultism” and ban “communism,” and that everyone “must obey Biblical Law.” If the enemy does “not yield,” the manifesto states, then “kill all the males.”

Late last month, House Republicans, who are in the minority in the Washington Legislature, stripped Shea of his party leadership role as caucus chair where he led party meetings and helped set legislative agendas. Prior to serving as caucus chair, Shea was assistant floor leader for seven years. State investigations into illegal campaign fund expenditures could now jeopardize his prospect for an appointment as the ranking member on legislative committees.

Shea wants to be appointed as the senior Republican member on the environment or judiciary committees. If Shea is overlooked, political experts say that would be a clear signal that Republican leaders have had enough of Shea’s divisive actions and inflammatory statements and intend to marginalize his political power.

The PDC complaint was filed Nov. 19 by Aaron Jarvis, a volunteer for Democrat Ted Cummings, who challenged Shea in last month’s race. Shea, a Republican, easily won his sixth term by a 58–42 percent margin.

The complaint alleges Shea’s campaign violated state law when it used surplus campaign funds to purchase $12,000 for radio broadcasts on the American Christian Network, $1,750 in advertising with the Redoubt News website and $2,248 for broadcast equipment.

Bradford, the PDC spokeswoman, said the state has 90 days from receipt of a complaint to determine whether to dismiss the matter, settle the case with an administrative penalty or, if serious enough, request a formal investigation that could lead to a hearing before the Public Disclosure Commission. PDC has already determined there was enough evidence to require a response from Shea.

Olympia attorney Walter Smith, who has extensive experience in Washington campaign finance law, states in an email to Hatewatch that Shea’s donation to Americans for America “does not appear to be an allowed use of surplus funds.” Smith questioned the legality of the Citizens for Free Speech donation “which does not show up as a charity and raises the same issues in my mind.”

Smith also raised concerns related to two $1,000 donations Shea’s campaign surplus fund made to Daniels Prayer Ministry in Olympia, Washington, in March 2017 and last February. Daniels Prayer Ministry is not on Washington’s registered charities list. However, the state exempts entities recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as religious organizations from its charity registration requirements. The ministry is registered with the IRS as a religious organization.

Bradford said that Smith filed a citizen’s complaint earlier this week concerning Shea’s surplus fund contributions to the three unregistered charities. The PDC, she said, has not completed its initial review of Smith’s complaint to determine whether a response from Shea is warranted. Smith filed the complaint after he was contacted by Hatewatch for comment on the nonprofit donations.

Hatewatch contacted Smith because he has a history of filing campaign finance complaints against many state legislators, including Shea. In October 2017, Smith filed a campaign finance complaint against Shea for failing to report contributions and expenditures in a timely manner. The complaint resulted in a January 2018 judgment ordering Shea to pay $3,750 in attorney fees to Smith’s firm and a $1,000 civil penalty to the state. Shea used his campaign surplus funds to pay the attorney fees and fine last January.

Legislators and campaign experts say elected officials usually use surplus campaign funds to support their political parties, hold the funds in reserve for use in future political campaigns for the same office or use the money to pay for expenses directly related to their state position that the state does not reimburse.

In Shea’s case, state investigators will likely have to determine if his use of surplus funds to buy radio air time, purchase ads and buy broadcast equipment falls under nonreimbursed, public office-related expenses. The state defines a nonreimbursed public office related expense as “an expenditure incurred by an elected or appointed official, or a member of his or her immediate family, solely because of being an official.”

Shea has routinely used both regular campaign contributions and surplus funds to purchase air time, advertising and broadcast equipment as well as to reimburse himself for travel expenses touring the state advocating splitting Washington in two at the Cascade Mountains to create a 51st state to be called Liberty, state campaign finance records show.

From October 2017 through October 2018, Shea spent $15,000 from his regular campaign account to purchase air time with American Christian Network (ACN). Just prior to this, from December 2016 through September 2017, Shea instead used $11,000 from his surplus account to purchase ACN airtime.

Shea’s Patriot Radio shows generally open with a lengthy religious indoctrination, followed by Shea’s analysis of the news of the day and concluding with an interview of typically far-right leaders. Shea’s news analysis is often based on reports from InfoWars and the far-right World Net Daily, both of which the SPLC lists as antigovernment, conspiracy and propaganda sites.

Shea has also tapped both his regular campaign account and his surplus account to reimburse himself for travel expenses related to his promotion of a 51st state. Shea reimbursed himself $132 on Sept. 6 and $205 on Sept. 20 out of his surplus account for 51st state related travel expenses, state records show. Shea also withdrew funds from his regular campaign account to pay for 51st state related travel expenses including $90 on Feb. 13, $147 and $58 both on April 10, $801 on June 4, and $119 on Aug. 7.

Shea has won each of his six elections by a comfortable margin in the very conservative district. This has allowed him to collect more than enough donations to cover his campaign expenses. Shea has transferred $140,000 to his surplus campaign account since 2011, state records show.

Shea’s surplus account has spent $88,000 since it was created, with the largest single expenditures going to the House Republican Organizing Committee that received $5,000 in 2011, $25,000 in 2016 and $5,000 this year. Shea has $51,400 remaining in surplus funds, according to his latest disclosure report filed on Sept. 30.

It might not be as easy for Shea to raise money in the future. Eight of his major donors have already issued statements denouncing Shea’s religious manifesto, with seven demanding refunds. Two major donors that contributed the maximum of $2,000 to Shea’s 2018 campaign said they will no longer contribute to Shea in the future.

“No future contributions will be made to this individual,” spokesman Luis Sahagun stated in a Nov. 15 email to Hatewatch.

Avista, a Washington utility, also made it clear the company was done with Shea.

Mary Tyrie, communications manager for Avista, stated in a Nov. 20 email to Hatewatch, “We do not plan on contributing to Rep. Shea again.”

What I Learned from Jon Tester

Dear Group,

The day before Thanksgiving I had breakfast with the recently re-elected senior U.S. Senator from Montana, Jon Tester. He is a native Montanan, born in Havre. He grew up in Big Sandy, MT, where his wife and he still run a farm (organic since the 1980s). Emily and I had the pleasure of meeting and having breakfast with Senator Tester and eight or ten others because I am lucky to know two of Jon’s brothers, both of whom now live in north Idaho, men who are part of a group that frequently shares breakfast, stories, and argument. Senator Tester had come to north Idaho for a family Thanksgiving. 

The Tester brothers are large men. For all his size, Jon is soft spoken and comes across as friendly and gentle. I, as a retired physician, found myself a little distracted by the dexterity he exhibited with his left hand, a hand with only the thumb and its fifth digit, the result of a meat grind accident at age 9. 

So what did I take away? I’m not a reporter. I didn’t record breakfast, nor did I take any written or digital notes. Of course, there were a few tidbits: Ted Cruz (R-TX) is generally not well-thought of by his fellow Senators. Jon finds Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) someone with whom he can work, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)…not so much. But apart from a generally warm and fuzzy feeling about the person Jon Tester, for me the most interesting things I took home from breakfast were notions of how Congress functions on a personal level.

First, without quite realizing it, I had it in my head that each person we send to Olympia or Washington, D.C. must know everything, or at least much, much more than I do about all that government manages. It was no surprise to me Senator Tester was very aware of farm economics affected by the current administration, the impending threat of bankruptcy hanging over many, and the struggle to pass the Farm Bill.. There were many other issues with which he was clear and up to date–and I have forgotten the details of most of them. But this came across clearly: Senator Tester knows what he does know and he easily admits it when he doesn’t know. What a relief… He was clearly “up” on issues addressed by the committees and sub-committees on which he serves (among them Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs), but he relies on his fellow Senators to understand and keep him apprised of other workings. 

Second, again without quite realizing it, I had an image of a clubby sort of camaraderie among all those we send to D.C. I asked Senator Tester what he thought of Cathy McMorris Rodgers. After all, she is a U.S Representative from a nearby state AND she is (or at least was) part of the House leadership, often touted as a powerful person we in eastern Washington should be loathe to lose. McMorris Rodgers’ and Senator Tester’s tenure in Congress has overlapped for twelve whole years. They must know each other pretty well, right? Tester’s response: “I really don’t know many of the Representatives.” 

There are 435 Representatives and 100 Senators in D.C. That’s 535 total. Add the President, Vice President, the cabinet, the staff of all these elected people, the President’s cabinet, and an abundance of lobbyists and the total is far beyond any single human’s capacity to keep track, much less maintain connection. Social scientists have assembled evidence that even the most gregarious humans are able to keep tract of social connections to about two hundred people.

I left breakfast that day before Thanksgiving with a better understanding of the task our federal Congress people face back in D.C., with an appreciation for people like Jon Tester, who know what they don’t know but possess the bandwidth and background with which to learn,…and with a sense of dismay that in the Representative eastern Washington has just retained I fear we have neither. 

Have a great weekend and 

Keep to the high ground,


Corporate Values

Dear Group,

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 the money ‘His beliefs do not reflect the views and values of the NWCUA, our member credit unions, or the consumers who are credit union members, [Spokesman, Update November 2

The Washington Association of Realtors, which donated $2,000 to Shea’s campaign, followed suit on Thursday, saying the group wanted a refund and that its name should be removed from Shea’s campaign materials. [Chad Sokol Spokesman, Updated November 2

Later Thursday, Leland Kim, a spokesman for AT&T, said in an email: “We have reviewed the news reports and the document, and have concluded that Rep. Shea’s statements are divisive and do not reflect our core values of inclusion and equality. We will not be making any future contributions to Rep. Shea’s campaign and will ask that he return the $1,000 we contributed to his campaign earlier this year.”

 [Chad Sokol Spokesman,Updated November 2

Avista Corp. [$2000] and the BNSF Railway Co. [$2000] on Friday joined the list of organizations requesting refunds from state Rep. Matt Shea’s re-election campaign. [Chad Sokol, Spokesman, November 2]

Adding those five together comes to $7000. Sounds like a lot, a big rebellion, right? Yes and no. The companies responding to Chad Sokol’s inquiries have some local eastern Washington presence, and were understandably sensitive to local and national embarrassing coverage of Shea’s “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto. But check out the Washington Public Disclosure Commission website page on Matt Shea’s 2018 campaign contributions. The top 45 contributors are mostly businesses, most of them not based in eastern Washington. Business contributions to Shea’s campaign are $39,700 of the nearly $110,000 war chest. ($40,450 of the rest of it comes from Political Action Committees.) 

Here’s the dilemma: Shea has a degree in law from Gonzaga. He is well-spoken and able to hide or gloss over his nuttier views while he’s in Olympia. He consistently votes with corporate interests, interests happy to have his vote and willing to support his re-election campaign. A corporation has no basic interest in a legislator’s stand on social issues, his morals, or his values…as long as none of that becomes a glaring negative in the eyes of corporate customers and, thereby, a threat to profit. 

For years Shea engaged in antics well documented in the Spokesman that should have sunk his political career while he stirred up nary a peep of complaint from the corporations that fill his campaign coffers. The only thing different this time is the national coverage of his “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto and his lame defense. At least briefly, he has become an embarrassment. 

Watch this space. By early next year the Public Disclosure Commission should report whether any of the requested $7000 in refunds actually occur. Furthermore, if we pay attention we should be able to find out if any of these organizations send money to Shea for the next election. The only way to make a dent in corporate contributions to candidates like Shea is to keep the spotlight on their antics that even corporations might find embarrassing.

Keep to the high ground,