Republicans at Oregon House broke their silence on Monday over allegations against Representative Mike Nearman, calling on the controversial lawmaker to resign days after new evidence Nearman plotted with supporters before authorizing a Capitol raid of the ‘Status in December.
“Today, we strongly recommend that you resign from the Oregon State House of Representatives, House District Position 23,” read a letter signed by the 22 members of the Republican House in no more Nearman. “In light of the latest evidence revealed regarding the events of December 21, 2020, we believe, 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 resign from office.
The letter comes the same day that House Speaker Tina Kotek introduced a resolution to expel State Representative Nearman – and appears to remove any doubt that the resolution would pass if presented to the whole House.
“All Republicans in the House have called on Representative Nearman to step down,” parliamentary minority leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, said in a statement. “We have to stand at a higher level in the life of the chosen one and his actions do not respond to that level.”
Nearman did not immediately respond to a request as to whether he planned to resign. But on Monday, lawmakers admitted to Tory radio host Lars Larson that he planned to allow people into the Capitol on December 21 and said he would likely be deported if it was a vote.
“Friday morning they will vote to kick me out, and I think they have the votes,” Nearman told Larson.
Nearman noted that no member of the House has been expelled in the state’s history and appeared to indicate that he would allow an expulsion vote. “Someday you’ll watch ‘Jeopardy’ and somebody say, ‘Who is Mike Nearman? “And that will be the correct answer,” Nearman said.
Kotek announced Monday that a resolution to expel Nearman would go through a “special committee on December 21, 2020,” which his office said will meet later this week.
“The gravity 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, D-Portland, said in a statement. . “He knowingly endangered the physical safety of everyone on Capitol Hill – lawmakers, staff and law enforcement – in jeopardy.
The special committee that Kotek is forming will be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, meaning the two parties will have to find common ground for anything to pass. The Democrats on the committee are Rep. Paul Holvey, who is Speaker of the House Pro Tem, House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, and Rep. Andrea Salinas. The Republican members are Drazan and Representatives Daniel Bonham and Duane Stark.
A vote to expel Nearman from the legislature would ultimately require a minimum of 40 votes across the House, a qualified two-thirds majority that would require at least three Republicans to vote for the expulsion.
The Nearman affair marks the second time this year that the House seems ready to eject one of its own. Earlier this year, former state representative Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, resigned rather than wait for a deportation vote after the findings showed he had harassed several women.
Until Monday, Republicans had remained largely silent on the Nearman affair. Drazan had said in the past that Nearman should be “held accountable” if his actions were found to be criminal, but did not indicate whether she would support deportation. At least one Republican lawmaker, Representative Bill Post, R-Keizer, suggested it was not clear whether Nearman intended to allow protesters to enter the Capitol on December 21.
On that date, surveillance footage showed Nearman exiting the Capitol through a hallway on the west side of the building, as right-wing protesters demanding entry gathered directly outside. Nearman didn’t interrupt his stride as he walked past two men holding the door open behind him. The lawmaker immediately circled the Capitol and entered the other side.
Once inside the Capitol, protesters clashed with police, with a man allegedly spraying masses of bears on officers. Even after being coaxed out of the building, some members of the crowd vandalized the glass doors and assaulted journalists there.
Nearman did not directly comment on his motivations for leaving the building that morning, but images released last week suggest it was a premeditated act designed to allow people to enter the Capitol.
In a video that appears to have been filmed on December 16, five days before the breach, Nearman can be heard explaining to supporters an idea for “Operation Hall Pass”. In the video, Nearman repeatedly tells an audience his phone number – what he shyly suggests is not his number.
“And if you say, ‘I’m at the west entrance’ during the session and text that number over there… someone might come out that door while you’re standing there,” Nearman says in the video.
According to Nearman, the presentation took place at the Freedom Foundation, a conservative group that works against organized labor and for which Nearman was a senior fellow. The group announced Monday that Nearman had resigned from the post.
“The Freedom Foundation had no knowledge of Mr. Nearman’s involvement before or during the Oregon Capitol violation on December 21,” said Jason Dudash, group director for Oregon.
During his appearance on Larson’s radio show Monday, Nearman was candid about what the video represented. “This video was kind of preparing me on the 21st, I think,” he told Larson.
Nearman also suggested that Kotek was “drunk on power” and that Oregon State Police had missed the opportunity to completely eject a handful of protesters from the Capitol before dozens more flocked in, creating a dead end.
“If they could have secured the building and they didn’t at that point, then I think you have to reconsider my responsibility for what happened after that,” Nearman said.
After a recitation of the facts, Kotek’s resolution concludes that Nearman has “engaged in disorderly behavior,” the basis of the state constitution for expelling a lawmaker.
The use of a special committee to deal with the case raises questions about a House conduct committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening. The committee is examining workplace complaints in the Legislature and was scheduled to look into Nearman’s case after an investigation determined that the legislature had likely broken personnel rules.
But while the conduct committee meeting is still scheduled, it is unclear exactly what will be at stake when the larger issue of Nearman’s deportation is considered by another committee.
Nearman has already faced some consequences of his actions. He was charged with two offenses arising from the incident and was stripped of all his duties on the legislative committee. In addition, he has lost his badge giving access to the Capitol and must give 24 hours’ notice before entering the building.