State lawmaker faces charges for allegedly allowing protesters into Oregon Capitol

Rep. Mike Nearman was charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass.

May 1, 2021, 2:54 PM

A Republican state lawmaker faces charges over allegedly allowing a group of protesters into the Oregon Capitol last year.

Rep. Mike Nearman was charged with official misconduct and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, by the Marion County district attorney on Friday, after an investigation by the Oregon State Police.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on May 11. ABC News has reached out to Nearman for comment.

A security video of the Dec. 21 incident obtained by ABC Oregon affiliate KATU appears to show Nearman leaving the Capitol in Salem, which was closed to the public due to the pandemic, during a one-day special session. Several protesters, who were rallying that day against the state's COVID-19 measures, can be seen entering the building and clashing with police.

Three people who gained access through that entryway were arrested, including one man who allegedly sprayed mace at officers, police said.

Pro-Trump and anti-mask demonstrators hold a rally outside the Oregon State Capitol as legislators meet for an emergency session in Salem, Ore., April 30, 2021.
Andrew Selsky/AP, FILE

Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek, who revealed in January that Nearman was suspected of allowing protesters to enter the Capitol, has called for his resignation.

"Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators," Kotek wrote on Twitter Friday. "I called on him to resign in January and renew my call in light of today's charges."

Nearman said the House speaker's motivations were "about politics and not about safety" after she confirmed the investigation into the state Capitol's breach a day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"I hope for due process, and not the mob justice to which Speaker Kotek is subjecting me," he said in a statement to KATU in January.

"I don't condone violence nor participate in it," he said.

Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman speaks in an undated photo.
Statesman Journal via USA Today Network, FILE

The state's House Conduct Committee voted in January to strip Nearman of his badge allowing him into the Capitol and prohibit him from allowing unauthorized people into the building. He also was required to provide 24-hour notice before arriving at the Capitol and stay in his office unless conducting legislative business in areas like the House floor.

The state Legislative Assembly in March also invoiced Nearman for more than $2,700 for repairs stemming from the December breach, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The invoice included $365 for an automatic door closer as well as fees for paint and a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser, OPB reported.

Nearman was elected to his fourth term in November.

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