Lawmaker Who Let Rioters Into State Capitol Faces the Music

Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman was seen letting in demonstrators during special legislative session
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2021 8:00 AM CST

Another lawmaker is facing heat for a Capitol breach, this time in the Pacific Northwest. When far-right protesters descended on the Oregon Capitol on Dec. 21 during a special legislative session, surveillance video (available here via the Oregonian) showed GOP Rep. Mike Nearman exiting through a side door, and holding it open for two demonstrators right outside. More soon joined them, until police showed up and a scuffle began. A source tells the paper that Nearman then proceeded to go right back into the building through another entrance. Per the Statesman Journal, at least 50 protesters gained access to the Capitol vestibule due to Nearman's breach, with six cops pepper-sprayed. "His actions have created immense fear among legislators and Capitol staff," House Speaker Tina Kotek says in a statement. "He should resign immediately because he has already breached the public trust and endangered our ability to safely conduct the people's business."

Kotek removed the 56-year-old lawmaker—one of the most conservative members of the state legislature, per the Washington Post—from the budget and tech subcommittees he'd been assigned to, as well as rescinded his commission appointments. Nearman will also see an invoice from Kotek for $2,000 to cover the damage done by rioters inside the building. On Monday, Nearman agreed to certain safety measures, including handing over his Capitol access badge, giving 24 hours' notice before showing up there, and agreeing to not let any unauthorized people in. Meanwhile, from the GOP side, Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan has called the video "difficult to watch," though she hasn't yet said if she's on board for sanctions for Nearman. For now, she wants a full probe, with repercussions "if the investigation finds that actions taken were criminal," she says, per the Oregonian. (Read more Oregon stories.)

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