SALEM, Ore. — Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) on Monday called for the resignation of state Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) who is seen on video opening a door and letting armed far-right protesters into the closed state Capitol last month.
Kotek also stripped Nearman of his committee assignments and rescinded his commission appointments. In addition, Kotek invoiced Nearman $2,000 to cover costs of the damage she said the demonstrators caused once they entered the Capitol vestibule.
“Representative Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger,” Kotek said.
The incident happened two weeks before armed Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol and led an attack that resulted in the deaths of five people.
“As we tragically saw last week during the insurrection at the United States Capitol, the consequences could have been much worse had law enforcement not stepped in so quickly," Kotek said of the breach at the Oregon Capitol. "[Nearman's] actions have created immense fear among legislators and Capitol staff. I believe he should resign immediately because he has already breached the public trust and endangered our ability to safely conduct the people’s business.”
On Dec. 21, Oregon Legislature was holding a one-day special session. Outside the Capitol, a group of armed demonstrators had gathered for a protest organized by far-right group Patriot Prayer in opposition to statewide COVID-19 mandates. Some were later seen kicking in doors and spraying officers with chemicals.
Security camera footage from inside the Oregon Capitol shows Nearman opening the door to the building, allowing the armed far-right demonstrators to get inside the Capitol.
Kotek said Nearman read a statement on the chamber floor agreeing to immediate safety measures, including not letting any non-authorized personnel into the Capitol, rescinding his badge access and providing 24 hours’ notice before he comes to the building.
"This will allow notice to be provided to all Capitol occupants so they can adjust their plans if they do not feel safe working in the building while he is present," Kotek said in a news release.
Oregon State Police is investigating the incident. OSP last week said that charges would be up to prosecutors.
OSP will also conduct building security training this week for those who work at the Capitol, the Associated Press reports.
Nearman sent out a long statement on Tuesday, saying he and his family have been subjected to criticism, attacks at their home and threats via email, social media and phone. He questioned Kotek's motivations for sharing the video days after the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.
KGW obtained video of Nearman opening the state Capitol door through a public records request, not from Kotek.
In his statement, Nearman also said, "I don't condone violence nor participate in it."
Amid the pandemic, most lawmakers and staff are working remotely. A rare exception was Monday when lawmakers were scheduled to convene to be sworn in.
Moving forward, keeping the Capitol largely closed gives OSP a couple months to weigh security upgrades to entrances, which have always been open to the public.
WARNING: Strong language