Oregon House expels Republican Rep. Mike Nearman for assisting rioters who breached state Capitol

Nearman was also charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass for his actions

By Brett Bachman
Published June 11, 2021 5:24PM (EDT)
Surveillance video shows the moment State Rep. Mike Nearman opened the door and allowed protesters to enter the Oregon State Capitol on Dec. 21, 2020 (Oregon State Legislature)
Surveillance video shows the moment State Rep. Mike Nearman opened the door and allowed protesters to enter the Oregon State Capitol on Dec. 21, 2020 (Oregon State Legislature)

The Oregon state legislature voted in near-unanimous fashion Friday to expel one of its Republican members, Rep. Mike Nearman, after he was recorded giving a closed-door presentation to right-wing protesters with instructions on how to breach the state Capitol building. He was later caught on security camera footage opening a door for the rioters on Dec. 21, 2020, leading to a raid by hundreds of Trump supporters that served as an eerie precursor to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Nearman, who was charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass for his actions, was the only member to vote against his own ouster. He is the first representative to be ejected in state history, according to the New York Times.

"This is potentially the most serious and historic vote any of us will ever take in our career as legislators," Democratic state Rep. Julie Fahey said at the proceeding, before urging her colleagues to oust Nearman.

"It was upsetting to learn that Rep. Nearman was planning and coordinating an attack on our Capitol," another Democratic Rep., Andrea Salinas, said. "The trauma of that day will not leave with Rep. Nearman." 

The vote came just days after fellow Republicans in the Oregon House of Representatives turned on their colleague following the release of an hour-long video recording of Nearman's Dec. 16 presentation to a crowd of Trump supporters, first reported earlier this week by Oregon Public Broadcasting

The video, which was reportedly circulated online in right-wing circles before the riot, starts off innocuously as Nearman coaches the group on how to track bills and contact state lawmakers. But it quickly takes a dark turn as he launches into curated instructions for how to best breach the Capitol building — which was closed to the public due to COVID-19 safety protocols — while also making careful note to "disavow" each step of the process as he goes.

In the presentation, Nearman refers to the plan as "Operation Hall Pass" — "which I don't know anything about," he repeats — and gives his own personal phone number to the future rioters at least three times, OPB reported.

Reports painted the Dec. 21 riot as a mini-Jan. 6 insurrection, with throngs of protesters brandishing pro-Trump paraphernalia and clashing with police officers, who were ultimately overwhelmed by the surge. The rioters chanted threatening slogans targeting lawmakers, and even allegedly attacked police with a smoke bomb and chemical irritants.

Nearman was allowed unlimited time to speak during the proceedings Friday, but kept his remarks short, according to OPB, claiming that he simply believed the public had a constitutional right to access the building.

"You're considering expelling a member, for the first time in history, because he thinks that people should have access to their Capitol, especially during session," Nearman said. "After this session, we're all going to go out to dinner or stop at the grocery store, or maybe tomorrow we'll shop and buy clothes or get our oil change, because all these places are open, but not this building."

No one else spoke in his defense. 


Brett Bachman

Brett Bachman is the Nights/Weekend Editor at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2020 Election Aggregate Capitol Riot Donald Trump Insurrection Mike Nearman Oregon Politics State Legislature