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The Oregon House took unprecedented action against a Republican legislator in expelling him for his actions that placed his colleagues and Gov. Kate Brown (D) in danger earlier this year. Rep. Mike Nearman not only unlocked the doors allowing far-right rioters to enter the capital building but coached them beforehand. On Thursday, June 10, he was voted out in a nearly unanimous vote — 59 to 1. His was the sole no vote.
During the pre-vote debate, Rep. Julie Fahey (D) said:
This is potentially the most serious and historic vote any of us will ever take in our career as legislators.
Rep. Nearman, in his fourth term serving the citizens of rural Polk County near Salem, Oregon, was inside the state House on December 21, 2020, when a group of far-right rioters assembled outside. They carried signage challenging former President Donald Trump’s reelection loss. In support of the former president, they proudly displayed their Trump flags. Soon, the scene devolved into acts of terrorism as one demonstrator used bear spray to assault officers and another attacked a journalist.
Once the masses entered the building, they roamed the halls for almost an hour while chanting for Gov. Brown’s arrest. Eventually, the police were able to clear the building — at least four would-be terrorists were arrested.
Nearman’s passive act of terrorism was revealed in January 2021, when he was seen on surveillance video letting the mob into the building. The former legislator casually walked out of the building through a locked door. He swung it open, thereby allowing easy entrance for the rioters.
Although Nearman claims he did not condone the post-election violence that day, he contends the building should be open to the public rather than closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nonetheless, House GOP Minority Leader Christine Drazen called for a criminal investigation into his participation in the breach.
So, Nearman was stripped of his committee assignments and was called upon to resign for months. In April, he was charged with two misdemeanor counts by Marion County District attorney Paige E. Clarkson. The charges lodged against him claimed he knowingly let rioters into the building, risking the safety of his colleagues.
Then last Friday, June 11, lawmakers learned from a video published by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) he suborned terrorism. Nearman is shown speaking to a room of people; he offered them his phone number and told them how he could assist them in breaching the state Capitol building.
Nearman is heard on the video saying they were “setting up ‘Operation Hall Pass,’ which I don’t know anything about, and if you accuse me of knowing anything about it, I will deny it.” He then gave the group his cellphone number multiple times. The former lawmaker told the group to text him on the proffered phone number and indicated all they had to do was let him know what entrance they were at while the House was in session, and “somebody might exit tat door while you’re standing there.”
After viewing the video, Oregon House Speaker Tina Lotek (D) introduced a bill to expel Nearman. GOP House members once again urge him to resign — some expressed feelings of betrayal over his lying about his involvement in setting up and carrying out the act of domestic terrorism.
Minority Leader Drazen told OPB she was grateful the police acted quickly; otherwise, Nearman’s actions might have resulted in House members being killed.
In an interesting twist, on June 16, the Oregonian reported Nearman’s constituents want him to retake his seat by winning the appointment of his position. He is not saying one way or the other as to what he plans to do.
Politicians Involved in Domestic Terrorism in the Northwest and Around the Country
While he is the first Oregon legislator to be found guilty of aiding and abetting far-right acts of terrorism, he is not alone. Matt Shea, a Republican House Representative in Washington state, was expelled from the GOP caucus after an investigation discovered Matt Shea had engaged in domestic terrorism.
His Google profile lists him as a politician, pastor, and a prominent member of the Patriot Movement, one of the organizations President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has identified as a group involved in domestic terrorism.
A 108-page report indicated that beginning in November 2015, Shea assisted far-right militia leader Ammon Bundy before and during the armed takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The six-week armed conflict resulted in an unknown number of protesters occupying federal land. In the end, one terrorist was killed and dozens were arrested.
The report identified other acts of promoting terrorism:
Representative Shea, as a leader in the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the state of Washington over a three-year period. In one conflict Representative Shea led covert strategic pre-planning in advance of the conflict.
Nearman and Shea are a small part of an active faction of politicians encouraging homegrown terrorism within the United States, starting with former President Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Kevin McCarthy, to name a few.
They may not directly use the word terrorism. Still, through their continuous agitation of alt-right militia groups by repeatedly pushing the falsehood that Trump is the rightful victor of the 2020 General Election and other Trump-related conspiracy theories, they actively invite domestic terrorism.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Washington Post: Oregon House expels GOP lawmaker who let far-right rioters into state Capitol: ‘He has shown no remorse;’ by Jaclyn Peiser
The Seattle Times: Washington Rep. Matt Shea engaged in domestic terrorism against U.S., says state House report; by David Gutman, Jim Brunner, and Joseph O’Sullivan
The Oregonian: Could expelled Rep. Mike Nearman be appointed to his old seat? His supporters want him to try; by Chris Lehman
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Gilbert Mercier’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Oregon Voter Digest Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License