Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson, whose office is prosecuting Rep. Mike Nearman, acknowledges a video of Nearman’s meeting with COVID restrictions protesters. The live streamed meeting provided the instructions on how the protesters could enter the State Capitol through the back-door; it was live streamed and uploaded on December 16 2020.
“It’s been part of the investigative material we have reviewed,” Clarkson said in an interview with OPB.
The video was posted on YouTube from the account The Black Conservative Preacher, and changed to members only content by the account holder after news of its existence was widely reported. In it, Nearman suggests the gatherers send a text to a phone number to notify someone inside at which doors they are located. He uses his phone number as an example and restates it.
He then advises the audience to select a weekday for back-door entry to the Capitol, which had been closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. More precisely, a Monday had been agreed upon.
“There might be some person’s number which might be [his cell phone number], but that is just random numbers… that’s not anybody’s actual cell phone,” Nearman said in the video. “And if you say, ‘I’m at the West entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there.”
Afterwards, he sums it up “so, we’re talking about setting up ‘Operation Hall Pass.’”
The following Monday, Dec. 21 at 8:29 a.m., a Capitol security camera footage captures Nearman walking out of a door, into a crowd protesting the COVID-19 restrictions.
Recently, a neutral attorney based out of the Portland area found that Nearman “more likely than not” allowed protestors in on purpose. The House Conduct Committee will decide next week whether Nearman broke Capitol rules and, if so, what the consequences should be.