(R-Washington State House of Representatives, District 19, Position 1)
Washington State Representative Jim Walsh (R-District 19, Position 1) wins the award for the most memberships in far-right Facebook groups. The 24 Facebook groups to which Walsh belongs include 13 COVID Denial, four Constitutionally-Constructed Nationalist, three School-Centered, one Anti-Indian, and three Other groups. Of the Constitutional-Constructed Nationalism groups he joined, three are also classified as Posse-Influenced, including the People’s Rights Washington Group (1,833 members*), a chapter of Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network.
Walsh joined the Posse-Influenced group, Our State, Our Rights (200 members) in 2015, the year before he was elected. The group describes itself as “working to defend the 10th amendment, our state rights under the U.S. constitution and trying to stop the federal over-reach.” Our State, Our Rights earned its way into the Posse-Influenced category by administrator Vickie Riveria’s heavy promotion of KrisAnne Hall’s work inside the group and her promotion of events featuring Hall and Matt Shea, the Christian nationalist paramilitary figure who previously occupied a seat in the statehouse. Walsh, who joined the group through two separate Facebook accounts, was added initially by Vickie Riveria; the far-right state legislator has also found cause to post material by KrisAnne Hall to his own Facebook accounts.
In this Posse-Influenced Facebook group, Walsh posted a defense of a student whose anti-masker activism led to lockdowns at three Vancouver, Washington schools when members of the Proud Boys attempted to escort her unmasked onto campus. Walsh cast the student, affiliated with a group deeply involved in the January 6 insurrection, as a “brave and outspoken conservative teen.”
Walsh began joining COVID Denial groups in May 2020. He continued joining them during the second wave in 2021, including For The Kids Washington (2,364 members), a group administered by the Proud Boys-affiliated student and her mother, and Open Schools USA-a We Are United group (2,876 members), an organization co-founded by the same student. Walsh was added to both groups by the same student. Kids For Washington pushes the range of issues commonly found in such School-Centered far-right groups,
“Group topics range from mask and vaccine mandates, CRT/CSE, gathering groups to attend school board meetings, homeschooling resources, how to unenroll from the public school system, public records request, legal documents/petitions and so much more.”
In 2021, Walsh also joined Northwest Parents against Critical Theory. The group declared its “purpose is to expose and destroy Critical Race Theory, the cancer that has afflicted our schools and institutions.”
In other groups, Walsh gave voice to conspiracy theories and Posse-style ideas about sheriffs being able to nullify laws they oppose:
“So, we’re bringing FEMA trailers into WA now because of COVID. What can we do to stop this? I’m worried about what it means…I understand that sheriffs can’t just arrest the Governor. But why can’t they claim the Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates and just deny his mandates?… We’ve pulled our kids out of public school. I hoped that would mean less money for CRT and sex Ed…What can we do to prevent another abuse of emergency powers like we’re seeing now? Looking past COVID to the next ‘crisis’?…I’ve seen comments that employers are in contempt of court if they mandate COVID vax’s for workers. True? What about health care workers?… Is the Governor or WA Speaker going to try to push a high-capacity magazine ban again in Olympia, after the recent federal court ruling (allowing such bans)?… Resist tyranny. Stay strong. Peaceful non-compliance is a powerful tool.”
Walsh’s delusions about COVID-19 were on full display when he wore a Holocaust-trivializing yellow star while speaking at a COVID Denial event. At the event in Lacy, Washington, Walsh declared, “It’s an echo from history…In the current context, we’re all Jews.” In addition, Walsh offensively compared vaccine requirements to Jim Crow segregation in the same presentation. While Walsh eventually apologized for these actions, his defense of them remains on his Facebook thread as of March 2022, with the comment, “Orwellian. Hyper partisans are trying to make a sign of solidarity into…something bad.”
In the legislature, Jim Walsh sponsored an anti-“critical race theory” bill and legislation opposing vaccine mandates or laws requiring vaccines to access “public places.” Walsh also co-sponsored voter suppression bills to end mail-in voting and require voter identification.