Oregon House Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican, has been expelled from Congress for helping anti-lockdown protesters breach the state Capitol, 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 concluded the Republican had engaged in “disorderly behavior” when he opened a door during a Dec. 21 special session of the legislature and allowed some protesters to enter the Capitol building, which was closed due to the pandemic. Following a scuffle, police eventually ejected the protesters and made several arrests.
“Colleagues, it couldn’t be any clearer. Rep. Mike Nearman intentionally allowed armed protestors, occupiers, to illegally enter the building during the peak of the pandemic,” Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, said on the floor of the House, according to the Statesman Journal. “He coordinated with his supporters and extremist groups and then opened a door to let them in.”
Ahead of the vote on his expulsion, Nearman was defiant, arguing that the closure of the Capitol violated the state constitution.
“You can let this be tried in the media and down to summary judgment on the floor like we’re doing here,” he said, according to KATU. “You can choose to skip the House Committee on Conduct and just do it now. There’s no reason to hear both sides and have something resemble due process. The party in power doesn’t have to be fair. Might makes right. So, if that’s what you want to do, let’s do what the people have sent us here to do, let’s decide. That’s what we do. We decide. Let’s decide, and let’s do it in front of the people.”
Security footage from Dec. 21 showed Nearman exiting a door, through which protesters entered the building. Last week, a video surfaced that appeared to show Nearman coaching constituents on how to text him so they could get into the closed building, prompting all of his Republican colleagues in the House to sign a letter urging him to resign.
“Given the newest evidence that has come to light regarding the events of December 21, 2020, it is our belief as friends and colleagues that it is in the best interests of your caucus, your family, and the state of Oregon for you to step down from office,” the lawmakers wrote.
Nearman also faces criminal charges over the incident. He has been charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, according to a court filing (pdf) with the Marion County District Attorney that was obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting. Nearman was arraigned on May 11, with a judge being set in his case, and a new hearing scheduled for June 29, according to the outlet.
An aide at Nearman’s office didn’t immediately respond to an earlier request for comment.