The legislature in the western U.S. state of Oregon Thursday voted 59-1 to remove a Republican lawmaker from office for his role in allowing right-wing protesters to breach the capitol during a demonstration against COVID-19 lockdowns in December.
On the floor of the state House of Representatives late Thursday, Republicans voted with the majority Democrats to remove Representative Mike Nearman, with the unapologetic Nearman the only dissenting vote. He is the first legislator expelled from office in the state’s 162-year history.
A special bipartisan committee appointed by Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek to consider the expulsion had also voted earlier in the day for Nearman’s removal and sent the measure the full House for consideration.
Oregon State Police investigating the breach of the state capitol identified Nearman from a security video in which he can be seen leaving the capitol through a locked door near where protesters had gathered, allowing them to enter. The capitol was among the public buildings closed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calls for Nearman’s resignation - many from his own party - began about a week ago after a second video surfaced showing Nearman advising potential protesters on how to get into the capitol and giving them his phone number.
In comments to Oregon media after the vote, Speaker Kotek said expelling Nearman “was the only reasonable path forward.” She said, “The facts are clear that Mr. Nearman unapologetically coordinated and planned a breach of the Oregon State Capitol. His actions were blatant and deliberate, and he has shown no remorse for jeopardizing the safety of every person in the capitol that day.”
Nearman, who argued he was only letting the public into a public building that should not have been closed, also faces two misdemeanor criminal charges and has said he will seek a trial by jury.