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Oregon House calls for removal of lawmaker who let rioters into state Capitol

Members of Oregon's state legislature called for Republican Rep. Mike Nearman to resign or be expelled after video showed he encouraged rioters to enter the state Capitol building. Screencapture from The Oregonian/YouTube
Members of Oregon's state legislature called for Republican Rep. Mike Nearman to resign or be expelled after video showed he encouraged rioters to enter the state Capitol building. Screencapture from The Oregonian/YouTube

June 7 (UPI) -- Members of the Oregon state House called for the removal of Republican Rep. Mike Nearman after video surfaced showing him instructing rioters on how to enter the Oregon Capitol building in December.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, introduced a resolution to expel Nearman from the state Legislature and created a committee to hold a hearing on the measure.

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If the committee approves the resolution a two-thirds vote of the full House would be necessary to expel Nearman, requiring at least three Republicans to join the 37 Democrats in the House majority in support of the measure.

"He knowingly put the physical safety of everyone in the Capitol -- lawmakers, staff and law enforcement -- in jeopardy," said Kotek. "As we saw in January at the U.S. Capitol, the ramifications could have been dire if law enforcement had not stepped in so quickly. This is an unprecedented situation facing the Legislature. It is beyond a workplace conduct issue and must be treated as such."

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Also Monday, the other 22 members of the House Republican caucus signed a letter calling for Nearman to resign.

"It is our belief as friends and colleagues that it is in the best interest of your caucus, your family, yourself and the state of Oregon for you to step down from office," the letter read.

On Friday, news organizations reported the existence of a video of Nearman coaching constituents on how to enter the state Capitol building, which was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in December 2020. Days later he left the door to the Capitol entrance open during a special session, allowing protesters, some armed with rifles, into the building.

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In a radio interview Monday, Nearman said that he was "clowning around" and "being a little flippant" in the video where he suggested he might open a door to the Capitol if demonstrators texted.

He added however that he disagreed with the decision to close the Capitol to the public, adding that the statements did set up his actions and that he felt he had the right to "have my say."

"It's the same thing with any kind of civil disobedience ... if you're willing to pay the price. Well, here I am, I'm paying the price," he said.

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House Democratic leader Barbara Smith Warner called Nearman a "traitor to our state" and House Republican leader Christine Drazen condemned his actions.

"We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard in elected life and his actions do not meet that standard," said Drazen.

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