SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House voted Thursday to expel Rep. Mike Nearman for his role in the Oregon Capitol breach last December. He’s the first member of the state House to be expelled in its 160-year history.
The vote was 59-1 in favor of House Resolution 3 which called for Nearman's expulsion. The only vote against the resolution was from Nearman.
Nearman, a Polk County Republican, was seen on security camera video letting violent, far-right protesters into the Capitol on Dec. 21. The protesters barged in and sprayed police with chemical irritants. A number of them were armed.
House Speaker Tina Kotek credited riot police, who pushed out the protesters, with preventing a full-scale assault like the one by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She said some were visibly injured and shaken.
In the months that followed, some excoriated Nearman as a seditionist. Others praised him for letting people into the Capitol, which was closed to the public because of coronavirus safety protocols, saying people should be allowed to attend even though hearings are livestreamed on video.
After video emerged Friday showing Nearman choreographing how he would let protesters into the Capitol, pinpointing the door he would open for them and disclosing his cellphone number so protesters could text him, every other Republican member of the House on Monday strongly recommended he step down.
On Monday, House Speaker Kotek introduced a resolution to expel Nearman if two-thirds of House members vote in favor. A committee recommended the expulsion before Thursday's vote on the House floor. On Thursday afternoon, the committee heard public testimony on HR3, including a statement shared by Nearman.
"To be clear, I'm being expelled for letting the public into the public's building while the legislature was conducting the public's business," said Nearman. "Those are the facts."
The Democratic Party of Oregon released a statement following Thursday's vote:
“This evening, the Oregon House of Representatives made an important and correct decision. In expelling Rep. Nearman, Oregon’s State Representatives stood up for the safety and well-being of all legislators, as well as legislative and Capitol staff.
"Nearman is now the first House member in Oregon history to be expelled, an appropriate response to his brazen and unconscionable actions on and before December 21, 2020, when he opened the door for armed, violent rioters to enter the Oregon Capitol building. His words and, more importantly, his actions proved that he is unfit to serve and cannot be trusted with the duties and responsibilities of a member of the Oregon Legislature.
“This historic action was only possible because House Democratic leadership moved with clarity and purpose. We also appreciate the members of the Republican caucus who joined Democrats to hold Nearman accountable for his actions by voting to expel.”
Nearman has not responded to numerous requests for comment. He told a conservative radio talk show that a video presentation he held on Dec. 16 “was me setting up the 21st.” He indicated that his actions were civil disobedience because he objected to the Capitol being closed to the public.
Nearman additionally faces two misdemeanor criminal charges and has said he will seek a trial by jury.