SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in its history, the Oregon House of Representatives expelled a member for his conduct.
Rep. Mike Nearman, who let armed, violent protesters into the state Capitol on December 21, 2020, was expelled by a vote of 59-1. The only “no” vote was from Nearman.
Speaker of the House Tina Kotek gaveled the vote and directed the Secretary of State to note that “District 23 is vacant.”
Following the vote, a group of about 50 protesters gathered outside the Capitol. Oregon State Police troopers walked some of the lawmakers to their cars.
Earlier in the day
Oregon State Rep. Mike Nearman testified before a House Special Committee public hearing Thursday afternoon on allegations he helped coordinate and assist a breach at the Oregon Capitol during a closed session last December.
Nearman (R-Independence) is one of 11 people who face criminal charges for the incident, including trespass and official misconduct. He defended himself during the hearing, saying “expelling me won’t make this place safer.”
“This has not been a fair process…the easy thing to do is expel me,” he said.
The committee unanimously voted to forward the resolution to expel to the floor. The full House convened at 7:30 p.m. to make their final statements before the vote.
Nearman made a relatively brief statement and remained defiant in his tone.
Following his statement, a series of Oregon representatives gave their statements about why they decided to support HR3, the motion to expel Nearman for his actions.
“While many of us were working across the aisle to deliver on relief for Oregonians who were most impacted by the pandemic and wildfires, Representative Nearman was planning and coordinating an attack on our Capitol,” Rep. Andrea Salinas said.
“It’s OK to disagree, but to demand that you are right and to try to achieve your righteousness through violence has no place in this state, in this country and definitely not in this body,” said Rep. Paul Holvey.
Kotek ordered the vote. Quickly it was over by a tally of 59-1.
“I support and respect the vote the House of Representatives took this evening to expel Mike Nearman. His actions were abhorrent. On December 21, 2020, those who work in the State Capitol were rightfully afraid for their safety. Their loved ones at home were afraid for their safety.
“The individuals who trespassed the Oregon State Capitol, facilitated by now-former Representative
Nearman, were intent on harm. They had ties to right wing extremism and white supremacist groups, and many were armed.
“His abhorrent actions warrant this historic response. It is right that he is being held accountable by his colleagues, and I hope he is also held accountable in the court of law.”
— Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner
‘Nearman enabled armed, violent protesters into Capitol’
“It’s impossible to overstate the seriousness of the reason we are here today,” Rep. Paul Holvey said. “Rep. Nearman enabled armed, violent protesters to enter the Capitol, breaching the security of the Capitol, which was officially closed to the public, and also endangered the authorized staff and legislators inside the building.”
Some of the protesters had guns. Among those who gathered outside the Capitol in Salem that day were people espousing false QAnon conspiracy theories about Democrats kidnapping babies. They carried American flags and President Donald Trump banners. One carried a sign calling for the arrest of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, Holvey said.
“Nobody should have opened the door to the people who were here that day,” said committee member Rep. Daniel Bonham, a Republican. “Absolutely terrible judgment that day to open that door.”
Nearman was unapologetic as he read a prepared statement to the committee.
“The fact is that I exited the building and members of the public entered into the Capitol building, a place they had a right to be — a place the Legislative Assembly had no right to exclude them from,” Nearman said. He said that on the advice of his attorney he would not answer questions.
The hearing comes as a new video recently came to light, appearing to show Nearman less than a week before the Dec. 21 breach coaching constituents on how to text him so they could get into the closed Capitol during a legislative session by way of somebody exiting the building.
On Dec. 21, Nearman was seen on security cameras letting protesters into the Capitol.
Even before the video came to light in the media, an independent investigation presented to the House Committee on Conduct found Nearman “more likely than not” helped anti-lockdown protesters breach the Capitol.
All 22 House Republicans said in a joint letter they recommend Nearman — who is facing expulsion — resign from his position with the Oregon State House of Representatives.
The hearing and possible work session is to resolve whether Nearman “engaged in disorderly behavior,” according to the legislature’s website. The special committee will be evenly split among Republicans and Democrats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report