The Oregon House ejected a sitting representative for the first time in history because he allowed far-right protesters into the closed Oregon Capitol during a legislative session on December 21, 2020.
The vote was 59-1 to expel Mike Nearman, a four-term Republican, with Nearman himself casting the lone no vote.
In late December, coronavirus cases were soaring with nearly 1,100 daily cases. The Capitol was closed at the time, but constituents could follow and testify during legislative sessions by phone or video.
Surveillance video captured Nearman exiting a door and allowing demonstrators into the building. At least one of the protesters was visibly armed, and police were allegedly sprayed with bear mace while trying to expel the intruders from the building.
A video surfaced last week of Nearman giving a group instruction to text his phone number and that then “somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there.” Nearman called the plan “Operation Hall Pass.”
Nearman said in a Monday interview that most of the people in the group would be “blue-haired old ladies,” but who showed up on the day of the breach included members of the right-wing, Vancouver-based group Patriot Prayer known for street brawls, people wearing clothing with Three Percenters militia logos and a Confederate flag hat and people armed with rifles and wearing military gear.
Nearman faces criminal conduct charges for the incident, but argues that the closure of the Capitol building and exclusion of constituents to the legislative process was unconstitutional.