By Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review
OLYMPIA — House members are being asked to sign a letter calling for their leaders to begin the process of expelling Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea.
A letter circulated this morning to all 98 members of the House asks for them to sign onto a letter to Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox to “take the necessary institutional steps to bring the expulsion” to the full House.
“Failure to act undermines the integrity of the institution and the core tenets of our democracy,” says the letter, which has a space for every member, both Democrat and Republican, except Shea. “We do not make this request lightly.”
It cites the conclusions of an independent investigation by the Ramparts Group, which alleged Shea was involved in planning political violence. Shea has denied the allegations, although he did not agree to be interviewed by the investigators, which the letter to leadership notes.
The letter was drafted by Democratic Reps. Tana Senn, of Mercer Island, and Gael Tarleton, of Ballard and placed on every legislator’s desk on the House floor Thursday morning. Republicans and Democrats went into immediate caucuses to discuss the letter.
The House administration released the Ramparts report in December, about a month before the session started, and the underlying documents from which investigators drew their conclusions last month.
After the report was released in December, Wilcox and other members of the House Republican leadership kicked Shea out of their caucus, which means he can’t use GOP caucus staff and does not meet with them to discuss legislation and policy.
But Wilcox has said he does not support expelling Shea from the House, arguing that the voters in the Valley’s 4th Legislative District sent him to Olympia and they should have the final say in whether he stays there. All House seats are up for election this fall, and Shea has drawn both a Republican and a Democratic opponent.
Jinkins has said that she is reluctant to begin potentially time-consuming expulsion proceedings unless there is the necessary two-thirds support needed to pass it.