The Oregon House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to expel four-term Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman on Thursday for allegedly assisting protesters who breached the state Capitol last December.
The historic vote of 59 to 1 is the first time the legislative body has ever ousted a sitting representative according to The Oregonian. It is expected that his seat will remain vacant for the rest of the session which ends on June 27.
The 22 state House Republicans chose to remain silent during the floor debate. They had already voted to expel the lawmaker. Nearman was the only one to vote “no” against his own expulsion.
This was the next step in censuring Nearman. He had already been stripped of his committee assignments and had to pay $2,000 towards damages supposedly caused by the protesters.
(Video Credit: KGW News)
Nearman has refused to answer questions on advice from his attorney at a committee hearing on his expulsion. Instead, he contended it violates the state Constitution to seal off the state Capitol building to the public because it was “a place they had a right to be, a place the legislative assembly had no right to exclude them from.”
“There’s no reason to hear both sides and have at least something resembling due process,” he sarcastically stated during debate on the floor. “The party in power doesn’t have to be fair — might makes right. So, if that’s what you want to do, let’s do what the people have sent us here to do. Let’s decide.”
Democrats were elated over the outcome.
Democratic Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek remarked in a statement that “elected leaders must be held to the highest possible standard.”
“The facts are clear that Mr. Nearman unapologetically coordinated and planned a breach of the Oregon State Capitol,” Kotek asserted. “His actions were blatant and deliberate, and he has shown no remorse for jeopardizing the safety of every person in the Capitol that day. Given the extraordinary circumstances, this was the only reasonable path forward.”
But the Republicans were right behind them in condemning the congressman. Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan dramatically claimed that the breach could have gotten someone killed.
“[Nearman] made a decision to intentionally come up with a plan to let people into the building [when] he did not know how that would turn out and he was comfortable with that,” Drazan commented on the public radio show “Think Out Loud.”
“I am not comfortable with that. There could easily have been a death on that day,” she added.
Rep. Daniel Bonham, who is a Republican from The Dalles and is the deputy House Republican leader, stated that Nearman exercised “terrible judgment” when he let demonstrators in that morning.
“I saw the people outside,” Bonham remarked. “Nobody should have opened the door to the people that were here that day.”
Rep. Anna Williams (D) tweeted on the incident previously: “On December 21st, a man with a bullhorn was standing below my office window shouting, ‘We’re coming for you!’ as a group of people carrying semi-automatic weapons was looking into my and my colleagues’ office windows. Rep. Mike Nearman invited them into the Capitol.”
On December 21st, a man with a bullhorn was standing below my office window shouting, “We’re coming for you!” as a group of people carrying semi-automatic weapons was looking into my and my colleagues’ office windows. Rep. Mike Nearman invited them into the Capitol.
— Rep. Anna Williams (@RepAnnaWilliams) June 8, 2021
Nearman has been charged with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass, both are misdemeanors.
Court records allege that Nearman “unlawfully and knowingly” allowed dozens of protestors, who were reportedly armed with rifles and pepper spray, to enter the statehouse while lawmakers inside were carrying out a special session on COVID-19 regulations. At the time, the building was closed due to the pandemic.
Video captured Nearman opening a locked door on Dec. 21 and leaving while allowing protesters to enter the building. Those who entered faced off with police and allegedly sprayed them with bear repellant.
If that wasn’t bad enough, another video appears to show Nearman addressing an audience and informing them on how they could gain access to the Capitol. According to reports, he even gave out his cellphone number.
“Somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there,” Nearman posited. He named the plan: “Operation Hall Pass.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting that at least three people who were involved in the Oregon Capitol protest also traveled to D.C. and took part in the Jan. 6 riot.
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