Former Oregon Lawmaker Gets Probation In State Capitol Breach Incident

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
July 29, 2021 Updated: July 29, 2021

A former Oregon lawmaker on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct and was sentenced to 18 months probation for letting anti-lockdown protesters into the state Capitol last year, according to local reports.

Mike Nearman, a Republican who in June was expelled from the Oregon Congress for his role in the Dec. 21, 2020 breach, will have to complete 80 hours of community service and is banned from the Capitol building and grounds, according to The Statesman Journal. He is also required to pay around $3,000 in court fees and fines.

Speaking before Marion County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Pellegrini, the former lawmaker admitted he let protesters into the Capitol building, which at the time was closed to the public for a special legislative session on COVID-19 relief measures.

“I think that the citizens were allowed to be in the Capitol, so I was letting them in,” Nearman told the judge, adding that he didn’t “support what they did when they entered,” according to The Statesman Journal.

According to surveillance footage released by the Capitol in the aftermath of the Dec. 21 breach, Nearman appeared to hold open a door to the building, allowing protesters to rush inside. A scuffle with police ensued, leaving several officers injured and thousands of dollars in damage to the building.

Following the incident, Nearman was charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors. Under Nearman’s plea deal, the court dropped the criminal trespass charge.

On April 30, following the announcement of criminal charges filed again Nearman, Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner issued a call for Nearman’s resignation.

“Given today’s charges, it’s clear that he’s got to go. I urge every one of my colleagues, in every caucus, to call this out for what it is and join me in demanding that Nearman resign immediately,” Smith Warner said in a statement, according to Oregon Live.

Nearman was later expelled from the Oregon Congress for his role in the incident, with the move being the first-ever lawmaker’s expulsion in Oregon’s 162 years of statehood.

In a 59–1 vote on House Resolution 3 (pdf)—with Nearman casting the sole vote against—Oregon House lawmakers voted for his expulsion, concluding that the Republican had engaged in “disorderly behavior.”

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'