SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon
House Speaker Tina Kotek
wants to expel a Republican lawmaker for allowing violent protesters into the state Capitol
in December, and fellow Republicans
The video, which appeared late Friday in local news
reports and appeared to show Rep. Mike Nearman
choreographing how he would let protesters into the Capitol, which was closed to the public, exploded like a bombshell in the Legislature on Monday, and was too much for even the minority Republicans in the House.
“Today, we strongly recommend that you resign from your position as a member of the Oregon State House of Representatives
, House District 23,” all 22 Republicans in the House said in a joint letter to Nearman.
“Given the most recent evidence... 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 for you to step down from your office,” they said.
Kotek, a Democrat, also introduced a resolution stating that if two-thirds of the House of Representatives agree, Rep. Mike Nearman will be expelled from the House. Her office announced that Kotek appointed a committee to consider expulsion minutes before the House opened its floor session late Monday morning.
According to Kotek's press release, the committee, which is made up of three Democrats
and three Republicans, will meet later this week to discuss the resolution.
However, with Republicans now calling for Nearman's resignation, his fate appeared to be sealed; if he did not resign, an overwhelming majority of House members would vote to remove him.
The incident on December 21 jolted lawmakers and staff inside the Capitol and foreshadowed the Jan. 6 assault
on the U.S. Capitol by rioters inspired by then-President Donald Trump
. Several of those who were in Salem on December 21 were later in Washington
during the U.S. Capitol attack
On the same day that lawmakers convened in an emergency session to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic
, far-right rioters stormed the Capitol and sprayed chemical irritants at police
, who eventually expelled them. Outside, protesters smashed windows and assaulted journalists
camera footage emerged showing Nearman opening a door to the capitol that had been closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing protesters to enter. Nearman allegedly told people
in a video days earlier that he would let them in if they texted him, and he provided his cell phone number.
According to Kotek's resolution, personnel authorized to be in the Oregon Capitol described the events of December 21 as intense and stressful, terrifying and distressing.
“As a result of the demonstrators’ actions, law enforcement officers were visibly injured and shaken,” Kotek added.
“The gravity of Representative Nearman’s actions, as well as last week’s revelation that they were premeditated, necessitate the formation of a special committee to investigate his removal from the House of Representatives,” Kotek said. “He knowingly jeopardized the physical
safety of everyone in the Capitol – lawmakers, staff, and law enforcement.”
Her resolution cites the Oregon Constitution, which grants the House of Representatives the authority to punish a representative for disorderly conduct.
The resolution states that “Representative Nearman (shall) be expelled from the House of Representatives with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives.”
Nearman is also facing two misdemeanor criminal charges and has stated that he intends to seek a jury trial
Nearman has not responded to multiple interview
requests, but he did say on a conservative radio show last month: "The Oregon State Police spent over four months investigating me.... Do you think these guys have anything better to do?"
According to Kotek, police in the state Capitol kept the situation from worsening.
“As we saw in January at the United States
Capitol, the consequences could have been dire if law enforcement had not stepped in so quickly,” Kotek said.
Reps. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, Christine Drazan, R-Canby, Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, and Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass are members of the new committee.
Andrew Selsky can be followed on Twitter