GOP Oregon State Rep Welcomes Expulsion, Future ‘Jeopardy!’ Fame
After video emerged that appeared to show Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman giving tips on how angry protesters could breach the state Capitol last December with his help — which he then gave! — his fellow Republican House members signed a letter that “strongly recommends" he GTFO. It wasn't just a couple Adam Kinzingers, either, but every Republican in the chamber.
"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, yourself, and the state of Oregon for you to step down from office," the letter states.
In the December 16 video, Nearman discussed a so-called “Operation Hall Pass," where someone would grant people protesting anti-COVID-19 restrictions access to the Capitol if they called a random selection of digits that happen to be his cell phone number. Surveillance video from December 21 showed Nearman leaving through a locked door and allowing far-Right demonstrators to enter the Capitol. They clashed with State Police, who claimed that "a protester sprayed some kind of chemical irritant."
Nearman was charged in April with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass. Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek has demanded Nearman's resignation since January but after seeing the "Operation Hall Pass" video, she introduced a resolution that would officially send him packing.
“The severity of Representative Nearman's actions and last week's revelation that they were premeditated require a special committee to immediately consider expelling him from the House of Representatives," Kotek said. "He knowingly put the physical safety of everyone in the Capitol – lawmakers, staff and law enforcement – in jeopardy. As we saw in January at the U.S. Capitol, the ramifications could have been dire if law enforcement had not stepped in so quickly. This is an unprecedented situation facing the Legislature. It is beyond a workplace conduct issue and must be treated as such."
Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote in the House. Democrats hold 37 seats so they'd need three Republicans to also say, “Hasta la vista, baby." That's not a big stretch now that the entire GOP caucus has cut bait on Nearman. He's not too worried about it, though, and even admitted to conservative radio host Lars Larson that he'd planned to allow people into the Capitol, presumably on some sort of high-minded, insurrection-related principle. He acknowledged that Kotek has the votes to expel him, but he's already looking on the bright side.
Nearman noted that no House member has been expelled in state history, and seemed to indicate he'd allow an expulsion vote to occur. "Someday you're gonna be watching 'Jeopardy' and somebody's gonna say, 'Who is Mike Nearman?' And that's gonna be the right answer," Nearman said.
We're all very proud of you, Mike.
Back in February, the House Conduct Committee determined that Democratic state Rep. Diego Hernandez had violated legislative harassment rules. Hernandez resigned in March rather than face a likely successful expulsion vote. He apparently is not a fan of "Jeopardy!"
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."