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US state lawmaker accused of funding anti-Muslim hate group

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo of Matt Shea, a member of the Washington State Legislature.

A US state lawmaker from Washington is accused of violating election campaign finance laws to donate to an anti-Muslim group and promote his radio show on a conspiracy website associated with a far-right secessionist movement.

Republican Representative Matt Shea, a member of the Washington State Legislature, is being investigated by the state’s Public Disclosure Commission over the use of surplus funds from his election account.

The commission has confirmed to KHQ, a local news channel, that they have two open complaints to review Shea’s alleged campaign finance violations.

Washington state campaign finance rules allow candidates to use leftover funds to pay off campaign funds, or donate to the state treasury, their political party, or a state-registered charity.

Instead, Shea’s campaign donated to two fringe groups - Americans for America, and Citizens for Free Speech.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights advocacy organization that monitors hate groups, has described Americans for America as an anti-Muslim hate group and Citizens for Free Speech as a “far-right nonprofit organization.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  released new statistics in November showing a dramatic rise in hate crimes in the US for the third consecutive year in 2017.

The annual FBI report revealed that there were a total of 7,175 cases of hate crimes last year, up from 6,121 in 2016, with more incidents motivated by racial, ethnic and religious bias than in previous years.

The FBI said anti-Muslim offenses accounted for 19 percent of anti-religious hate crimes in 2017.

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