SALEM, Oregon – The Oregon House of Representatives ousted Republican Representative Mike Nearman Thursday night, the first time in state history that a sitting Oregon lawmaker has been expelled.
The count was 59-1, with the only down vote coming from Nearman himself. He showed no contrition during brief comments on the House floor.
Nearman was fired for disorderly behavior of allowing rioters to enter the closed Capitol building during a special legislative session on December 21, 2020.
His actions led to dozens of people – some in armies and wearing bulletproof vests – to gain access to the Capitol, thousands of dollars in damage and six police officers in Salem and Oregon state injured.
“Brothers, this could not be clearer. Representative Mike Nearman intentionally allowed armed protesters, occupiers, to enter the building illegally during the peak of the pandemic,” said Representative Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, on the floor of the Lodge. “He coordinated with his supporters and extremist groups, then opened a door to let them in.”
Lawmakers said the day was “sad” and “gloomy,” but said the legislature had a responsibility to expel Nearman after putting his colleagues and staff at risk and refused bipartisan calls for his resignation.
“Eviction is the only reasonable course of action,” said Representative Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego.
Article IV Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution gives each chamber the right to punish its members for “disorderly conduct,” and the punishment may include expulsion.
A few dozen protesters – many of whom were also present during the riot on December 21 – gathered outside the Capitol building during the eviction vote in favor of Nearman. There were chants of “let us in” and banging on an exterior door, both audible from inside the Chamber of the Chamber.
Cheers rose as Nearman spoke up, appearing through large outdoor TV screens, a staple of a legislature in the midst of a pandemic.
Nearman made a brief statement, denouncing that the building remains closed to the public and what he considers a lack of due process for his eviction.
“There is no reason to hear from both sides and at least have something that looks like due process,” he said sarcastically. “The ruling party doesn’t have to be fair – power does good. So if that’s what you want to do, let’s do what the people sent us here to do.
No other Republican spoke during the floor debate.
Nearman left after all the votes, exiting the Chamber’s bedroom and removing his face mask on the way. His supporters outside gathered around the Capitol parking lot exit and heckled lawmakers as they walked away.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, introduced House Resolution 3 on Monday and created the bipartisan special committee which voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to move the resolution to the entire House .
The House suspended some rules of the legislative process to allow lawmakers to vote on the resolution immediately.
“The facts are clear that Mr. Nearman shamelessly coordinated and planned a breach of the Oregon State Capitol,” Kotek said in a statement after the vote. “His actions were blatant and deliberate, and he showed no remorse for endangering the safety of everyone on Capitol Hill that day.”
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2 videos tell the story
Republicans had been mostly silent on Nearman’s actions until last week, after a video was released showing Nearman suggesting to a crowd days before the riot that if protesters text him he could let them enter the Capitol.
The other 22 members of the Republican House caucus called on Nearman to resign from the Legislature through a letter on Monday.
“It is our belief, as friends and colleagues, that it is in the best interests of your caucus, your family, yourself and the State of Oregon that you step down. “, we read in part in the letter.
Democrats have been calling for Nearman’s resignation or expulsion for months, and many have stepped up to those calls following the video’s release.
The video – which aired live on YouTube on December 16 – showed him speaking to the Oregon Citizens Lobby, a right-wing political engagement group he described as legislative nerds and mostly “old haired ladies.” blue ”.
“There could be a person’s number that could be (their cell phone number), but they’re just random numbers… it’s not someone’s real phone,” Nearman said in the report. video. “And if you say, ‘I’m at the west entrance’ during the session and text that number over there, somebody might come out that door while you’re standing there.”
Nearman also faces criminal charges arising from the incident. He was arrested on May 11. These are offenses but can lead to a prison sentence.
Prior to the discovery of the second video, a non-partisan legislative inquiry concluded that Nearman “more likely than not” let protesters enter the building on purpose.
This investigation relied heavily on video evidence from Capitol Hill security cameras.
Video evidence shows Nearman exiting the Capitol at 8:29 a.m. on December 21 from the entrance to the lobby on the side of the house.
At the time, only one protester was standing near the door. When Nearman got out, he walked around the protester and the man rushed inside. A second quickly followed, and they both motioned for others to join them while holding the outer door open.
Three others did so before the police arrived and kicked them outside. But at that time, the door was kept open from the outside and the four officers could not close it.
Police eventually had to withdraw due to the release of a chemical irritant.
In the end, at least 50 people entered the vestibule of the Capitol. Six police officers from Salem and the state of Oregon were sprayed with pepper in the scuffles that followed.
Contribution: Brian Hayes, Salem Statesman Journal
Follow Connor Radnovich on Twitter: @CDRadnovich.