By Julie Harte | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday night voted to expel one of its own members accused of coordinating with protesters to allow them into the state Capitol.
Security footage cited by lawmakers showed Mike Nearman, a Republican, opening a locked side door to the Capitol while the House was in session on Dec. 21 and allowing in a group of protesters, some of whom were armed. The intruders damaged property and clashed with law enforcement while calling for the arrest of Oregon’s governor over her imposition of pandemic restrictions.
A video posted online five days before the breach showed Nearman advising protesters to text him when they were outside the Capitol in order to gain access to the building, according to the Oregon House resolution to remove Nearman. The lawmakers said Nearman had engaged in “disorderly behavior” by helping the protesters enter the building in defiance of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Nearman made a brief statement during the House debate on Thursday, saying the effort to expel him lacked due process and criticizing the legislature for an attitude he characterized as “might makes right,” according to local reports.
The riot was part of a wave of far-right protests against state COVID-19 restrictions that swept the United States last year, picking up steam after former President Donald Trump baselessly claimed voter fraud underlay his loss to President Joe Biden in November.
Video: GOP lawmaker seen coaching people on how to breach Oregon capitol
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat who sponsored the resolution to remove Nearman, said in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday that the House vote to remove one of its own members was “unprecedented” but “the only reasonable path forward.”
Nearman’s actions were “blatant and deliberate, and he has shown no remorse for jeopardizing the safety of every person in the Capitol that day,” she said in the statement.
The only Oregon lawmaker to vote against Kotek’s resolution was Nearman himself, who is also being prosecuted on misdemeanor charges for allowing the rioters into the Capitol in December.