An elected GOP representative who helped enable a mob of right-wing protestors to invade the seat of the legislature?
It seems like a description that could apply to some of the actions suspected to have taken place in Washington DC earlier this year in the days leading up to the deadly insurrection attempt when rumors of newly-elected Republican representatives with ties to right-wing extremist groups giving advance tours of the capitol building to members of these groups were circulating among their Democratic colleagues.
In this case, however, the story belongs to a now-indicted Republican member of the Oregon state House of Representatives who is accused of opening a door to allow rioters into the state Capitol weeks earlier than the Washington DC attack.
GOP Rep. Mike Nearman is now facing two separate criminal charges for his actions after surveillance video caught him in the act of allowing entry to the extremist protestors.
Nearman was indicted for official misconduct in the first degree, a class A misdemeanor, and criminal trespass in the second degree, a class C misdemeanor, seemingly minor penalties for enabling such an egregious invasion of a legislative session in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
The legislature was holding an emergency session on pandemic relief at a point when the state was near the height of the second wave of COVID-19 infections it has suffered when Rep. Nearman was caught on video exiting the building and holding the door open for the assembled demonstrators attempting to enter the session to demand an end to mask-regulations and other pandemic precautionary restrictions.
After a months-long investigation, prosecutors charged Nearman with the misdemeanors when it became clear that he likely intended to allow the protestors to gain access to the building since he quickly re-entered the building from another doorway after walking around the building from where he exited.
Once the demonstrators were inside — like their soulmates who attended the Washington DC insurrection — they quickly went on the offensive against the police officers protecting the building and the legislators working inside, even spraying chemical bear repellent at the officers trying to impede their progress into the building.
Unlike their counterparts in the U.S. Capitol Building, the law enforcement personnel in Oregon’s capital were able to repel the invaders before they made it to the legislative chambers, but that did not lessen the criticism of Rep. Nearman by his colleagues in the state legislature.
Saying that Nearman’s actions “put every person in the Capitol in serious danger,” Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) demanded that the offending representative resign immediately.
It was a call echoed by Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D) who said:
“Nearman should have resigned in January, the moment that security footage confirmed his involvement and assistance in the attack,” the lawmaker said in a statement. “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.”
You can watch the security camera footage that led to Oregon GOP Representative Mike Nearman’s indictment in the video below.
Original reporting by Daniel Politi at Slate.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.