Displeased with the virtual distancing brought about by the pandemic, State Representative Mike Nearman said in a statement that he believes that legislative proceedings should be open to the public.
Closed since March 18 of last year to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Oregon’s State Capitol building was breached by Nearman allowing members of Patriot Prayer – a far-right group of rioters – into the Capitol on Dec. 21. They proceeded to damage state property and two members of the group used chemical weapons to assault state troopers.
Nearman, after receiving a formal complaint and being stripped of his committee duties, spoke out against House Speaker Tina Kotek, saying he felt as though she is subjecting him to “mob justice.” He also questioned the timing of Kotek’s revelation that he had opened the door to the protesters, believing it was done on Jan. 7 as a means of associating his actions with those of insurrectionists in Washington, D.C.
Nearman claims that Kotek is distributing the video as a means of harrassment. The video has not been shared with the press through Kotek’s office. Additionally, it was the state police who uncovered Nearman’s complicity in the event and notified Kotek.
Nearman, who is in his fourth term of office representing Benton, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, is currently under investigation by Oregon State Police. If charged, he will stand trial in Marion county.
In his statement, Nearman claims that he and his family have been receiving hate mail since it was revealed that he had opened the door on Dec. 21.
As per the Oregon Constitution, Kotek has the authority to expel Nearman due to disorderly conduct, although that would require a two-thirds majority vote within the chamber where Nearman sits.
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan released a statement that read in part: “The investigation into this incident by law enforcement is underway and must be allowed to be completed. If the investigation finds that actions taken were criminal, legislators are not above the law and will be held responsible.”
By Sally K Lehman