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Oregon lawmaker facing criminal charges for letting far-right protesters inside state Capitol

Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) will be arraigned on first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespassing next month.

SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon state representative is facing two misdemeanor charges for letting far-right demonstrators inside the state Capitol building last December, the Marion County District Attorney's Office announced Friday. 

Oregon State Police launched an investigation into Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) over reports that he helped the demonstrators breach the building during a one-day special session on Dec. 21, 2020. 

The crowd was there for a protest organized by far-right group Patriot Prayer in opposition to statewide COVID-19 mandates, and several arrests were made. 

Surveillance video shows Nearman opening the door to walk outside during the event and demonstrators grabbing the door behind him to get in the Capitol building. 

He's scheduled to be arraigned May 11 on charges of first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespassing. Both are Class C misdemeanors.

Following the incident, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) called for his resignation, describing Nearman's actions as a "serious, serious breach of public trust." Kotek also stripped Nearman of his committee assignments and rescinded his commission appointments. 

Last month, Nearman was billed $2,700 for damages to the vestibule where he opened the door. The invoice included $2,108 for contractor repairs, $392 for a door closer, $132 for paint and $79.99 for a soap dispenser.

Nearman has not indicated that he will resign. 

In January, Nearman issued a statement saying he and his family have been subjected to criticism, attacks at their home and threats via email, social media and phone. In the statement he said, "I don't condone violence nor participate in it," but did not address opening the door. 

KGW will continue to follow this developing story.