May 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP lawmaker charged for letting rioters into Oregon State Capitol

President Donald Trump's supporters stage a protest against Presidential Election's result in Oregons State Capital, Salem, Oregon, United States on January 1

A protest by supporters of formr President Trump against President Biden's election win at the Oregon State Capital in Salem. Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

An Oregon Republican state lawmaker faces charges after allegedly allowing dozens of far-right protesters to breach the State Capitol in Salem last December, court records show.

Driving the news: Rep. Mike Nearman faces charges of official misconduct in the first degree and criminal trespass in the second degree, both misdemeanors, following an investigation by state police that began after the Dec. 21 breach.

  • Prosecutors allege that "being a public servant," the 57-year-old "did unlawfully and knowingly perform an act which constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another" while the legislature was in session.

Zoom in: Video footage appears to show Nearman opening two doors, enabling entrance to the Capitol for the rioters — many not wearing masks and waving flags supporting former President Trump,.

  • "More than 30 people made it into the vestibule and about 150 protesters were gathered right outside the door," the New York Times reports.
  • Law enforcement arrested at least five people following the incident, AP notes.

Of note: Democratic lawmakers filed a formal complaint in January, accusing Nearman of endangering them and others present, knowing that "only authorized personnel are allowed in the building due to the COVID-19 pandemic," according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

  • Several Democrats have called for Nearman to resign following Friday's announcement of charges.
  • State Rep. Rachel Prusak (D) said in a Twitter post Saturday that Nearman had "acted as part of a coordinated effort to allow enemies of democracy into the building; literally opening the door to sedition."

The other side: Nearman has yet to respond to requests for comment following the charges, but he said last January that he does not "condone violence, nor do I participate in it," per the Salem Statesman Journal.

  • "I hope for due process, and not the mob justice to which Speaker Kotek is subjecting me," he added.

What's next: Nearman has been ordered to appear in the Marion County Court on May 11.

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