Matt Shea and His Business Donors

Dear Group,

Last October as the November election approached Matt Shea made a local and national media splash with exposure of his “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto, a document he tried to explain away as an outline for a Sunday School lesson. (Matt Shea, along with McCaslin Junior, are the two Representatives to the State House in Olympia from Legislative District 4, Spokane Valley and the territory north to Mount Spokane. For more on Shea and his activities see the P.S. below) When Shea was making national and local news with his Manifesto, articles appeared in the Spokesman on three consecutive days, October 31, November 1, and November 2 listing business donors who said they wanted a refund of the money they donated the Shea campaign. Some, in their press releases, said “Shea does not reflect our values.” Some insisted they would not donate again.

Northwest Credit Union Association was the first to publicly request a refund. The Washington Association of Realtors, AT&T, The Washington Hospitality Association, Avista Corp., and the BNSF Railway Co. followed. The Washington Hospitality Association and others acknowledged that Shea was under no legal obligation to return the money. 

Reading the Spokesman articles leaves the impression if Chad Sokol (the Spokesman reporter who wrote all three articles) had not taken the initiative to visit the Public Disclosure Commission’s website, and call Matt Shea’s donors for comment, few if any of these businesses would have made a public statement or requested a refund. 

I urge you to visit the Public Disclosure Commission’s website It takes a little electronic digging, but there is a wealth of useful information. Click “Browse,” enter the candidate’s name and select from the list. 

Did any of Matt Shea’s business donors get their money back? Visit Shea’s 2018 Campaign Expenditure page.  I could find no evidence of a refund. The real test comes in the lead up to Shea’s 2020 election campaign. Will these businesses “forget” over two years and write Shea another check? After all, even though businesses (at least corporations) are, for legal purposes, treated as persons, business memory is likely to be fragmented. Will the right person remember the 2018 promise? The first donation to Shea’s 2018 campaign fund arrived on March 15, 2018. Perhaps in early 2020 we should remind these and other donors of Shea’s activities.

The total business donations to Shea’s 2018 campaign were $40,250, of which only $8000 came from the donors who publicly withdrew their support. Using the Public Disclosure Commission website it should not be hard to come up with a list of the other donors from 2018 to whom to suggest in early 2020 that donating to Shea might shine an unwanted light on them. Another $40,900 came from Political Action Committees with names like WASHINGTON STATE AUTO DEALERS PAC, WASHINGTON OPTOMETRIC PAC, and the WASHINGTON STATE DENTAL PAC. Might they be educated as well?

What Shea does with all this money (a grand total of $113,145.98 after adding in individual donations) is a story for another day. It is all there on the Public Disclosure Commission website. 

Keep to the high road,


P.S. While using the Search function at the Spokesman in preparing this email I came upon an article on Matt Shea written by Shawn Vestal that appeared December 14, 2018. I encourage you to click the link and read it. As usual Mr. Vestal nails it.

P.P.S. Public Disclosure Commission website is for in-WA-State candidates. Federal candidate campaigns are found at

Paul Ryan’s PAC?

Dear Group,

If you watch TV you should pay attention to the the “Paid For” statement that by law must appear at the end of each political ad. If you are already watching the “Paid For” statements you may have wondered when the attack ads from “Paul Ryan’s PAC” are going to appear. After all, we’ve heard a number of times that “Paul Ryan’s PAC” has set up an office in  Spokane. An article in the Spokesman by Kip Hill on January 8 informed us eastern Washington was one of 27 congressional “key districts” in which “Paul Ryan’s PAC” had already set up an office. In January of 2018 ours was the only U.S. congressional district in the State of Washington with such an office. (Did they see the writing on the wall?)

Take note: “Paid For by Paul Ryan’s PAC” will not appear. When an ad funded by the PAC appears it will read “Paid For by the Congressional Leadership Fund.” The “Congressional Leadership Fund,” sounds very bland and bi-partisan, almost as if it were an arm of the Congress itself. I imagine the name was advance-registered by Republican message-meisters for exactly that reason.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is a Super-PAC, a first generation offspring of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision of January 2010, the Republican-engineered legal case that un-leashed a flood of corporate money into our election system. The CLF is one place where the engineered personhood right of Citizens United is manifest, manifest right here in eastern Washington. The Congressional Leadership Fund shows its first recorded donation on October 31, 2011 following Citizens United. By the end of the 2011-2012 election cycle the CLF had received over 11 million dollars in donations, including 2.5 million from Chevron and, to bring the story closer to home, $300,000 from Edmund O. Schweitzer III of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, WA. In the 2015-2016 cycle donations grew to 50 million and for the current cycle they already stand at 101 million dollars.  

According to Kip Hill’s Spokesman article from January:

The field office in Spokane will serve as a hub for one full-time staffer and volunteers to begin canvassing the district to speak with voters about issues and gather data ahead of the November election, according to the Congressional Leadership Fund. The announcement does not mean the organization, which spent millions of dollars supporting the special election candidacies of Reps. Greg Gianforte* of Montana and Karen Handle [against Jon Ossoff] of Georgia, will make ad buys in Eastern Washington.

Will the Congressional Leadership Fund (“Paul Ryan’s PAC) keep a low profile here in eastern Washington or will there be a flood of foul ads from the CLF in late October, right before the election? In preparation we would do well to pay attention to CLF’s tactics elsewhere. Check out this article in the Washington Post from September 7 and follow its links to get a feel for the desperation and nastiness the CLF is capable of generating. 

“Paul Ryan’s PAC” equals The Congressional Leadership Fund. It is a blatant example of the corrosive result of the corporate personhood established by Republican corporate effort in the Citizens United case. (read more on Citizen’s United here). The Congressional Leadership Fund, a darling of corporate interests and the offspring of Citizens United, is right here in eastern Washington. Watch for its effects.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The Congressional Leadership Fund is a “Super PAC (Independent Expenditure-Only),” Such a PAC (Political Action Committee) “makes only independent expenditures [and] may solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations and other political committees.” The definition of “independent expenditure” is one “That is not made in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or his or her authorized committees or agents, or a political party committee or its agents. 11 CFR 100.16.” (see the glossary at Refer to Kip Hill’s Spokesman quote above and marvel at how easily “independent” can be made blurry…

*Greg Gianforte is a far right, uber-wealthy then-candidate who assaulted a reporter from the Guardian right before the Montana special election to replace Ryan Zinke. Perhaps on account of absentee ballots already filed, he managed to eek out a win in spite of the assault. His seat as the only Representative from Montana, the seat he has held for only a little more than a year, is hotly contested this November by a great candidate, Kathleen Williams. I hope there are enough sane people still in Montana to retain Jon Tester as Senator and to replace this unseemly evangelical pugilist, Gianforte, with Kathleen Williams. I find Williams’ wikipedia article inspirational., What is it?


A 4X8 “yard” sign just east of Applebee’s near Lincoln Heights on the north side of 29th. This and a bevy of signs presumably for like-minded Republicans are firmly affixed on a lot privately owned by Grapetree Village, LLC. The “registered agent” of Grapetree Village, LLC is Pamela Cloninger, widow of Glen Cloninger (1944-2010). [Update: By early October this WBWV 4X8′ “yard” sign had been removed from this location. Two smaller ones along with a McMorris Rodgers signed appeared on church grounds of the ‘Berachah’ Church of Blessings at 25th and Grand. Could this church be more blatantly involved in candidate advocacy?


Dear Group,

The Christian values with which I was brought up were tolerance, forbearance, respect for my fellow man, justice, charity, non-violence, stewardship of God’s creation. Still ringing in my ears from my mother are sayings from the Bible, “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword,”  “It is more difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” and “turn the other cheek.” [paraphrased here from memory]. 

I do not recognize my mother’s values, the Christian values with which I was brought up, among the “Evaluation Criteria” at, the voters guide advertised on yard signs on lawns and some churchyards in eastern Washington. Anyone who uses this website and considers themselves a Christian ought to consider the specifics of what the folks behind this Political Action Committee called “We Believe-We Vote” actually believe. Christianity is not a monolith, it never has been, and the folks who put together this website are using selected material, the majority of it from the Old Testament, to sell their version of politics. We Believe-We Vote is a gross attempt to weld together a fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution, an armed, closed-door nationalist view toward the world, and a particularly narrow fundamentalist version of Christianity…and sell it as a voters’ guide to local Christians. 

I cannot resist some irony here. Who knew that articles of Christian belief included “a well run campaign”, “references to God in government”, “the right to keep and bear arms”, fealty to the electoral college system, “strong national security and borders”, opposition to recreational marijuana, and a cherry-picked literal interpretation of the Bible? You have to dig a little on their website to find these criteria and the churches and pastors who subscribe to them. (Scroll to the bottom of the second link to see if your pastor is among them.) Without that diligence the Christian is invited to simply fill out their ballot with assurance the recommended candidates share “Christian” values the PAC wishes you to believe are universal.

I am reminded of the saying, “When Fascism* Comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Could the imagery on the We Believe-We Vote yard sign be more obvious?

While we still have federal and state campaign finance laws in place it is possible to learn quite a lot about a political action committee like We Believe-We Vote from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, (Forces within the Republican Party are actively engaged in repealing such campaign finance law…but save that for another day.) 

Political action committees (PACs) like We Believe-We Vote (WBWV) do not appear out of thin air. WBWV first appears at the Public Disclosure Commission in 2013 as “We Believe-We Vote Barbara Lancaster Sponsor” with an address on Farwell Road, just southeast of Green Bluff. Two years later, in 2015, Ms. Lancaster’s name was dropped (the address stayed the same). Also in 2015 WBWV broke the PDC threshold both for more than $5000 total donations and no single contributor donating more than $500 in aggregate. They broke into the big time with a $3000 donation from Northwest Trustee and Management and total donations of $10,335.00. As a result we can see where WBWV spent its money that year: on radio ads, Facebook ads, and “digital marketing management.” 

We Believe-We Vote pops into general public view with its flag-draped cross in 2018 with a $1741.89 purchase of 4X8 foot and 1.5X2 foot yard signs, part of a budget now swelled to $32,967.26. Without these yard signs most eastern Washington Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopals, Presbyterians, and Unitarians, among others, would not have guessed that gun rights, strong borders, and fealty to the electoral college system were articles of Christian faith. Without the outbreak of yard signs WBWV might only have festered on right wing radio, Facebook and the web.

I know people who attend the churches and listen to pastors who have signed on to the We Believe-We Vote voters’ guide. I have attended services at some of those churches. Much of what is preached there is familiar fare. But with endorsement of the WBWV website these pastors subscribe to a profoundly disturbing brand of Christianity I do not recognize from my upbringing, a Christianity that is a mockery of the values by which I try to live. Explore the website for yourself, see what you think.

Keep to the high ground,


*From my online dictionary: Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.

P.S. I would be interested to hear from other parts of U.S. Congressional District 5 (eastern WA, the domain currently “represented” by McMorris Rodgers, a product of Stevens County). Does WeBelieveWeVote have signs up in Walla Walla and in Pullman? I ask because the pulldown menu at under “Voter Guide” suggests it is tailored for just two counties, Stevens and Spokane. 

Nunes/Primary Update/Things to Do

It’s all working out. Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.

– Donald Trump (7-24-2018)

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. 

George Orwell, 1984

Dear Group,

George Orwell’s dystopian novel was required reading when I was growing up. The quotes I posted above were ringing in my head as I stood in front of the Spokane Club on Monday. McMorris Rodgers was inside sharing the podium with her friend and supporter, Devin Nunes, raising money from sixty-one local Republicans gathered for a $250-500 luncheon, sixty-one private party attendees carefully shielded from prying eyes. 

McMorris Rodgers surely wishes most Eastern Washington voters to believe her when she and her spokesman say she “supports the Mueller investigation.” She wishes us to believe the words of her “positive disruptor,” Donald Trump, when he tells us not to believe what we see and hear. She must fervently wish that as she invites to her fundraiser the Congressman most responsible for the Republican effort to undermine and discredit the Mueller investigation. Believe what I say, “I support,”, not what you see. Her actions speak louder than her words. 

The Progress of the Primaries

Primary election ballot turn-ins are actually quite a lot ahead of 2014 (the last midterm primary), contrary to Jim Camden’s depressing article in the Spokesman last Sunday, “Primary Voter Turnout Lagging.” Updated as of Monday evening (according to the Spokane County Ballot Return Statistics (PDF) accessed from this webpage) 11,754 (52,249 minus 40,495) more ballots have come in than during the comparable period in the 2014 midterm primaries. The change in percent return of total ballots sent out is less impressive, 16.67% in 2018 vs. 14.35% in 2014 (there are about 30,000 more registered voters now than in 2014), but the trend is clear: More people are voting. (See chart below.)

What you can do:

1) You can help encourage voting by signing up for a Spokane tradition: sign waving on arterials and freeway bridges in the cool of the morning as people drive by. From Eileen Marin, fellow Indivisible:

URGENT:  We need all volunteers who are available to put on t-shirts, grab your yard signs, coffee, and a friend and go to your nearest arterial intersection at 7 30 (earlier if you’re so inclined) and proudly hold your sign and wave. You’ll be delighted by the thumbs-up, horn-honking response that you will get. It’s important to remind people to vote and to visually show them our solidarity, our presence as a community of people who believe we can make a change.  Please text 509 939 9108 with your name and the location where you stood so that we can get organized for Nov.  (Evening is also good…folks going home to find their ballot.)Thanks to all of you.

2) This increase in turnout isn’t happening by accident. Many of us volunteers have been knocking on doors, talking with registered voters, and encouraging them to make the effort to cast their ballot. You can help with that too, by signing up with and joining us for GOTV (Get Out the Vote) canvassing. (See the CANVASSING LINKS in the box below.) It is rewarding and enlightening experience to connect with fellow citizens. 

3) Write letters to the editor to your local newspaper. They don’t have to be erudite (just look at some of what gets printed from the other side). I’m told they are printed in proportion to the numbers received, so even if you don’t get yours printed the submission helps get the word out. For the Spokesman the limit is 200 words. You can send it by email to . Include your name (with any appropriate letters behind it), a daytime phone number and your address (number and street address are not published). 

4) Call ten friends you think might be sympathetic. Have a chat. Emphasize the importance you feel about voting in the Primary this time.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Part of need for high ballot turn-in is that high numbers attract money from state, local, and even national political entities. More likelihood of winning generates more likelihood of winning. That is just the way it is.

I used data published on the Spokane County Elections website and exercised my arithmetic skills to come up with comparable periods of time. Unless Mr. Camden had access to a different data set for his Sunday article, there was a glitch in his arithmetic for the pre-weekend results and therefor also a glitch in the inference he drew from the data. Arithmetic can be a problem even when you’re not in a hurry and under a deadline. Feel free to check mine.

CMR Brings Devin Nunes to Town

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers has not held a well-advertised town hall since well before the Trump era. In the few small flash town halls she has held (Green Bluff on May 29th comes to mind), her best answer to pointed questions is either “I’ll have to look at that again, perhaps now is not the time” (on deregulating gun silencers) or “I think, ah, I dunno…what do you think we should do?” (in response to a question on climate change). Letters responding to questions, rather than presenting a reasoned argument, often sign off with “I’ll keep your opinion in mind as I work on this.” 

She suggests she will talk with Trump about the tariffs that will hurt Washington agriculture and makes “tsk, tsk” sounds in response to Trump praising Putin and thumbing his nose at our allies in Europe. Certainly she would like worried moderates in eastern Washington to believe she can influence Trump in their favor, but she does nothing beyond tepid words.

Will she stand up for the integrity of our elections, for the integrity and continuance of the Mueller investigation, for American values against a Russian dictator? 

She offers a clear answer to those questions displayed in the handbill posted above. She and her campaign (Paid for by Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress) have invited, as the “Special Guest” to a fundraising luncheon at the Spokane Club, the Republican Representative most infamous in the nation for attacking the integrity of the Russian election meddling investigation headed by Robert Mueller. 

McMorris Rodgers could not have more clearly stated her position. She has chosen sides. She brings to our district the congressman most committed to discrediting the Mueller investigation. Jared Powell, her spokesman, informs us, “She [CMR] supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but wants it concluded as quickly as possible.” With her Nunes fundraiser in mind that sounds like code for, “Mueller’s investigation is a thorn in my side. It should be discredited and wrapped up as soon as possible so we get on with Russia’s takeover of our country.”

You can’t make this stuff up. For review:

Devin Nunes is a seven term Republican hailing from a heavily Republican central California district created by the 2000 re-apportionment. Steve Bannon has described Devin Nunes as the second strongest supporter of Donald Trump in Congress. (see How Devin Nunes Turned the House Intelligence Committee Inside Out). Nunes has consistently attacked the FBI and the investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller to the point of making even some Republicans vocally uncomfortable. His name appears on the widely discredited “Nunes Memo” attacking the FBI and trying to discredit Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Nunes was the subject of an investigation by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (the office the Republicans under McMorris Rodgers’ chairmanship tried to gut at the beginning of this Congress, in itself a suspicious act, since CMR is still the subject of an investigation by the OCE). From USA Today:

The California Republican [Nunes] temporarily stepped aside from the Russia investigation [by the House Intelligence Committee which Nunes chaired] in April [2017] because of the ethics probe, which launched after Nunes took a secret trip to White House grounds last spring to review information gathered by unnamed sources purporting to show that President Trump was under surveillance by the Obama administration during the 2016 campaign.

After the independent Office of Congressional Ethics referred the probe to the Republican controlled House Committee on Ethics the investigation was dropped. (The other investigation, the one into McMorris Rodgers’ campaign finance dealings is still moldering in a back closet at the Republican-controlled House Committee on Ethics.)

Please remember how “restoring trust in government” and “bipartisan” roll off McMorris Rodgers’ lips in mixed company. Really? Then she allies herself with the most hyper-partisan, breathless conspiracy spinner in Congress…and brings him to Spokane, the Spokane Club, no less, for a fundraising lunch…  You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. Was she doing this sort of thing before when we weren’t paying attention? 

Who in Spokane thinks Devin Nunes’ conspiracies are meritorious and also has the money, time, and enthusiasm to actually attend a luncheon and hear him speak?

It certainly is not my neighbor, who usually votes Republican. She admitted last Monday evening she was so upset with the Trump/Putin lovefest that she had already cast her ballot for Lisa Brown. May there be many more sensible Republicans just like her.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Read Shawn Vestal’s Wednesday column on McMorris Rodgers’ vile attack ad.

P.S.S. McMorris Rodgers could be in town for nearly a month starting this Thursday. See the Congressional Calendar.

Primary Election Notes

The Democrats organize for all the Democratic candidates. Get to know them. 

Interesting fact: On account of State/Federal campaign finance laws “volunteers” paid out of a federal candidate’s campaign coffers aren’t allowed to push local candidates. (That would be a transfer of money, i.e. the “volunteer’s” wages, to the state candidate.) BUT, unpaid volunteers like us are free to talk all we want (First Amendment, you know ;-). The federal candidate’s campaign just can’t advocate or provide literature for state candidates, but as long as we’re unpaid volunteers we can talk by just “putting on our citizen hat” at the doorstep. We’re citizens free to say what we like and our efforts are not considered a contribution in a monetary sense. Phew!

Primary Election Facts to spread around:

1) In every county in Washington State (thank you, Karen Hardy, “Horse Sense-No Bull” Legislative District 7 Senate candidate for pushing Ferry County to join in} the postage for mailing in ballots is pre-paid.

2) You are not required to vote for a candidate in every race to have the votes you do cast counted

3) The sooner you mail in your ballot the sooner the campaigns will know not to pester you. The fact that you voted already is made available within 24-48 hours.

4) Don’t wait until the last day! In rural counties especially you might not get a postmark until the next day and if that happens you won’t be counted!

Volunteers? Grassroots? Let’s pin that down

Mobile phone screenshot of a job posting on the “Indeed” job search app, captured the evening of July 11th, 2018.

Dear Group,

Looking back at my electronic calendar (a more reliable resource than my memory) I see I have been canvassing, knocking on doors, talking with prospective voters since March of this year. I have volunteered as an unpaid local individual for FUSE, for the Democrats, and for Lisa Brown and her campaign. I know many others similarly offering their efforts and time as local folks knocking on doors, listening to our neighbors and conversing about how we feel and what is important to us. We do so because we’re fed up with the people who say they represent us. We do so because we’re worried and frightened about what we see happening in our country. Two years ago, many of us, myself included, could not have imagined we would be knocking on doors, but here we are. Many of us, including myself, previously self-idenfied as independents, or “fiscal conservatives and social liberals.” Every one of us has other things we’d like to be doing, but we’re knocking on doors because we are personally motivated. It does not get more “grassroots” than this.

Last Thursday one of my readers posted the screen shot I’ve reproduced above. It popped up for her in the “recommended jobs” section in a job search app she uses on her mobile phone. The app is “Indeed.” The job was posted by the Lincoln Strategy Group. Lincoln Strategy Group has an international presence. The Lincoln Strategy Group’s welcome page announces: “We Are Influence.” Take a tour of their site. It will make you cringe. They boast “11 million doors knocked on.” The word “grassroots” is broadly sprinkled. 

Tracking down the job posting finally yielded this “Indeed” webpage. Laughably, the job post is by “Lincoln Personnel – Spokane, WA.” At the bottom of the page they acknowledge Lincoln Personnel LLC is part of Lincoln Strategy Group LLC. The contact phone number, 480-799-7699. That is an Arizona area code. 

Republicans representing Spokane are paying people in a firm in Arizona to answer the phone and screen applicants from anywhere to come to Spokane and pose as “grassroots” for $15/hour to G.O.T.V. (get of the vote) ahead of the August 7 Primary deadline. These hires may be fresh-faced youths, but they are not “grassroots,” they are mercenaries, folks paid to sway votes and public opinion. 

Most of my readers won’t meet one of these hired guns (assuming the Republicans can attract any in the current job market). These paid canvassers will use a mobile phone app that sends them mostly to doors of folks thought to be sympathetic Republicans. What you can do, however, is to suggest to anyone who will listen that the first question to ask a canvasser is, “Are you paid to knock on doors?” The response might be an interesting story…

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The  “Indeed” webpage offers other details. Folks hired as mercenary canvassers get “$15/hr w/ gas stipend.” In exchange for the $15/hour the employee is required to provide their own “reliable transportation” (no mileage allowance, just the “gas stipend”) and their own smartphone on which they are willing to download a GPS enabled app. I suppose these extra requirements (and the fact this employment offers no benefit package) are sufficient in the Republican universe to justify the princely wage of $15/hr.

P.P.S. A friend notes there is a call out among sympathetic folks to provide housing for this paid cadre of out of area canvassers while they are here posing as our local grassroots. Any money they manage to save will likely not be spent in eastern Washington, nor will the Lincoln Personnel’s hiring fee be spent here. 

P.P.P.S. Remember Fox News and various Republicans around the time of Trump’s inauguration accusing protesters of being paid for by George Soros, of being bused in by paid organizers for the purpose of making trouble? How does that lie stack up against using an influence peddling business to hire mercenaries?