Oregon State Rep. Mike Nearman (R) became the first person ever expelled from the Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday, with all 59 of his colleagues voting to vacate his seat over his decision to let a mob into the state Capitol last year.
In a 59-1 vote, with Nearman the sole opposition, the legislature was absolute. Nearman was the only Republican to speak during floor debate.
“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, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. “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.”
The expulsion vote came after OPB surfaced a video from December showing Nearman seemingly coaching a roomful of people on something he called “Operation Hall Pass,” instructing them to text him during a demonstration the following Monday when they were in a position to enter the building, which had been closed to the public due to COVID-19.
“You’d have to say what entrance you’re at,” Nearman told the room, affecting a tongue-in-cheek ignorance. “But that’s not really going to happen. So don’t worry about that. Nobody said anything.”
That Monday, surveillance footage showed Nearman exiting the building at the right door, at the right time, to allow a crowd of demonstrators outside, some armed, to enter the building and scuffle with police. One person allegedly using bear mace against law enforcement. In addition to the expulsion vote, Nearman still faces two misdemeanor charges for his actions.
The “Operation Hall Pass” video turned the tide definitively against the lawmaker, prompting the entire Republican caucus to call for him to resign.
“The facts are clear that Mr. Nearman unapologetically coordinated and planned a breach of the Oregon State Capitol,” House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) said of the vote Thursday. “His actions were blatant and deliberate, and he has shown no remorse for jeopardizing the safety of every person in the Capitol that day. Given the extraordinary circumstances, this was the only reasonable path forward.”
State Rep. Bill Post (R), one member of the united Republican caucus voting against Nearman, wrote online Thursday that the demonstrators outside (and later, inside) the Capitol on Dec. 21 were “far from peaceful,” and spent the day hurling death threats at lawmakers.
Post wrote that Republicans stood by Nearman at first because he assured them, after the surveillance video from that day came out, that no evidence would emerge showing a premeditated plan on his part to let demonstrators in.
“How would you vote? What if a House Democrat had allowed Antifa into the Capitol? Would you vote to expel him or her? That is what we face. That is why we call for Mike to resign,” he wrote, adding later: “I’m not going to stand up for someone who admitted to a premeditated crime after lying to his Republican colleagues about it.”
Nearman was met at the Capitol Thursday by a crowd of supporters, some who’d been beckoned by Ammon Bundy’s “Peoples Rights” network, which has organized protests against COVID-19 orders and other unrelated issues nationwide.
“Former state representative Mike Nearman,” he corrected the group.