SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon
lawmakers kicked out a Republican legislator for allowing violent, far-right protesters into the Statehouse on Thursday night.
Rep. Mike Nearman
was the first member of the House to be expelled in its 160-year history, with the House voting
59-1 to remove him from the Legislature for disorderly conduct.
During a previous hearing, Rep. Paul Holvey stated that Nearman allowed protesters, some of whom were armed, to enter the Capitol.
On Dec. 21, lawmakers convened in emergency session to deal
with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic
, and Nearman was seen on security
video opening a door to protesters. Protesters barged into the building, which was closed to the public due to coronavirus safety protocols, engaged in shoving matches with police
, and sprayed officers with bear
“It is impossible to overstate the gravity of the situation,” Holvey said. “Rep. Nearman allowed armed, violent protesters to enter the Capitol, breaching the Capitol’s security, which was officially closed to the public, and endangering the authorized staff and legislators inside the building.”
espousing false QAnon conspiracy
theories about Democrats
kidnapping babies were among those gathered outside the Capitol in Salem that day, as were people carrying American flags and banners for former President Donald Trump
, and one carried a sign calling for Democratic
Gov. Kate Brown's arrest
, according to Holvey.
As he read a statement to the committee, Nearman made no apologies.
“The fact is that I exited the building and members of the public entered the Capitol building, which they had a right to be — a place the Legislative Assembly had no right to exclude them from,” Nearman said, adding that he would not answer questions on the advice of his attorney.
On December 21, 2020, hundreds of people gave written testimony to the House Special Committee, which is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans
Some witnesses branded Nearman a seditionist, while others praised him for allowing people into the Capitol, arguing that residents should be allowed to attend even though the hearings are livestreamed on video.
“Mike Nearman’s behavior... was abhorrent and anti-democratic,” David Alba said, adding that by assisting and supporting extremists, he has put people’s lives in danger. “He should be removed from office, and he is not fit to represent my district.”
After a video surfaced in local news
reports on Friday showing Nearman choreographing how he would let protesters into the Capitol, pinpointing the door he would open for them and disclosing his cellphone number so protesters could text him, all of his House GOP
colleagues strongly recommended he resign on Monday.
Nearman's supporters, however, argued that they elected him and that the House should not expel him, and one supporter suggested that the 22 Republican lawmakers be voted out of office.
“We see you compromising Republicans whittling away at concepts of morality, liberty, and justice to take a knee to the woke mob,” Casey Ocupe said in written testimony, adding, “May your Republican constituents have no mercy on you.”
House Speaker Tina Kotek
introduced a resolution on Monday that would have the House expel Nearman if two-thirds of its members voted in favor, and she appointed a committee to investigate the matter.
Kotek credited riot police, who eventually pushed the protesters out, with preventing a full-fledged assault
like the one carried out by Trump supporters
at the US Capitol
on Jan. 6. She said some were visibly injured and shaken.
Nearman has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press
. He told a conservative radio talk show on Dec. 16 that a video presentation he gave was "me setting up the 21st," and that his actions were civil disobedience because he objected to the Capitol being closed to the public.
Nearman is also facing two misdemeanor criminal charges and has stated that he intends to seek a jury trial