GOP Oregon State Rep Charged With Letting Rioters Into State Capitol, Like It’s Some Kind Of Crime
On December 21, just a few weeks before the MAGA mob stormed the US Capitol, another group of miscreants breached the Oregon statehouse during a legislative session. They weren't Antifa, either. These specific dummies had gathered to protest Governor Kate Brown's COVID-19 restrictions, and Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman kindly let them inside. They were unmasked, angry, and ready to rumble.
Surveillance video clearly showed Nearman opening doors in a stairwell and letting in representatives from the mob. They didn't even have an appointment. State Police had to push them back out again, but they couldn't keep the door shut because so many creeps were trying to force their way inside. Nearman had wandered off by this point. Presumably, his work was done.
Chillingly, at least three of the far-right demonstrators in Salem would travel to the US Capitol for the January 6 siege. Disaster was narrowly averted in Oregon, but that doesn't absolve Nearman of his recklessness. Marion County District Attorney Paige E. Clarkson announced Friday that Nearman has been charged with misdemeanor counts of first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass.
According to court documents, Nearman "unlawfully and knowingly" opened the door for the far-right group "with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another." Oregon State Police claims one of the people who made it inside the state Capitol sprayed troopers with “some kind of chemical agent." The anti-lockdown protesters also attacked a journalist who photographed their faces. The thugs probably should've considered wearing masks, as they're effective during both a pandemic and seditious activity.
Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek suggested that Nearman resign in January, when the surveillance footage was released. She repeated her request Friday on Twitter.
Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators… https://t.co/wRtoXZjSCu— Tina Kotek (@Tina Kotek)1619826585.0
"Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators. I called on him to resign in January and renew my call in light of today's charges."
Nearman, who is charged with helping a rightwing mob, whined in January that he was the victim of “mob justice." He even had the audacity to criticize Kotek because she talked about his alleged crimes out loud, which he claimed "triggered a wave of 'hate-filled and profanity laced' attacks on his family." He didn't apologize like some common RINO, but he released a lie-filled statement that was disconnected from reality. This is just par for the Republican course these days.
From the Oregonian:
Nearman also described a 2015 event at the Capitol that does not appear to have occurred. "I was able to handle the hundreds of public union protestors who waged a physical attack on the House chamber in 2015, as the House held a floor session," Nearman wrote.
Reporters who were covering the Capitol do not recall such an event. Instead, there were "chants and calls to action" in the galleries above the House and Senate floors by protesters on racial justice and economic issues in 2016 that prompted Senate President Peter Courtney to say the Capitol needed to improve security.
Nearman said in January: "I don't condone violence nor participate in it," despite what he's clearly alleged to have done. His best defense, we guess, is that he's just a flake like Elaine from “Seinfeld," who kept buzzing up random people into her building, including a jewel thief.
His Republican colleagues have mostly remained silent, but House GOP Leader Christine Drazan said she supports a criminal investigation.
"State legislators are the voices of their community," Drazan said. "They are not above the law."
Nearman's community is a Republican-leaning district near Polk County, about 60 miles away from Portland. It's a mostly rural area that includes the cities of Dallas, Jefferson and Dayton. Nearman easily won a fourth-term in 2018 and remains a vocal opponent of the state's COVID-19 restrictions. He even sued Governor Brown last October over her emergency orders.
Nearman was stripped of his committee assignments months ago, so he has plenty of free time to focus on his defense.
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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."