Prosecutors on Friday filed two charges against a Republican member of the Oregon House of Representatives who let far-right rioters into the Capitol in December.
Rep. Mike Nearman was charged with first degree official wrongdoing and second degree criminal offense.
Oregon State Police struggled to get the rioters back from the Capitol, which was closed to the public on Dec. 21, when lawmakers gathered in an emergency session to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Marion County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Kemmy told Nearman’s attorney Jason Short on Friday that his client must appear in court on May 11 or he will be arrested.
Rep. Mike Nearman is seen leaving the Oregon Capitol building at approximately 8:30 am on December 21, 2020. As he leaves, he pushes open the door and far-right protesters slip past him.
The protesters are seen in the Capitol, holding an interior door open and gesturing to fellow demonstrators to enter the building as well.
Short was out of the office on Friday afternoon and was not available for comment. Nearman did not immediately respond to phone and email messages asking for comment.
Nearman had been seen on security cameras letting violent protesters into the Oregon State Capitol. They attacked the authorities with bear spray.
Outside the building, some protesters attacked reporters and broke glass doors on the marble-clad Capitol. State police have investigated the matter.
“He allowed a group of rioters to enter the Capitol, despite knowing that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the building,” court documents said.
Nearman’s actions were “utterly unacceptable, reckless, and so serious that it” affects people’s ability to feel safe working in the Capitol or even before the legislature, “the documents said.
In January, after Nearman’s role became apparent from the security footage, House Speaker Tina Kotek called for his resignation and removed his committee duties.
Oregon State Police rushes into the vestibule to repel protesters who are inside
The police then find themselves gathering to repel the protesters who have attempted to enter the building
Nearman (pictured) was charged with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal offense
The image above shows the criminal complaint filed against Nearman by the Marion County District Attorney’s Office
Rep. Nearman put everyone in the Capitol in serious danger, ” Kotek said on Jan. 11.
She was referring to the deadly storming of the US Capitol that had taken place just days earlier, on January 6, by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
“ As we tragically saw last week during the uprising at the United States Capitol, the consequences (here) could have been much worse had law enforcement not intervened so quickly, ” Kotek said.
According to the court’s allegations, the misconduct charge alleges that Nearman, who hails from the town of Independence west of Salem, “ committed an act unlawfully and knowingly … harm ‘.
The charge is a Class A felony punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $ 6,250.
The violation charge accused him of unlawfully letting others into the Capitol. It is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 30 days in prison and a fine of $ 1,250.
Oregon public broadcaster was the first to report that Nearman was being charged, later announced by Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson’s office.
In a statement released in January, Nearman expressed his belief that the State Capitol should be open to the public. It has been closed since lockdown measures were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Since then, the state legislature has kept its sessions virtual.
Nearman is an outspoken opponent of the statewide COVID-19 restrictions, which have been described as the strictest in the country.
“I neither condone nor participate in violence,” Nearman said.
Far-right protesters clashed with police outside the Oregon Capitol Building on Dec. 21 while attempting to enter the building that was closed to the public.
Police saw mace sprayed by far-right protesters outside the Oregon State Capitol building on Dec. 21
Trump supporters wave flags outside the Oregon Capitol building Dec. 21
A protester yells at Salem police as he tries to enter the Capitol on December 21 during far-right protest
Armed supporters of former President Donald Trump can be seen above on Jan. 6 in Salem, Oregon
“ I really think that when Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative process will be ‘open’, it means open, and as anyone who has been staring at a screen in virtual meetings for the past nine months will tell, it is not the same as being open. ‘
In the statement, Nearman suggested he was a victim of “ mafia justice. ”
After the charges were announced, Kotek, the state legislature representing Portland, reiterated the call for Nearman’s resignation.
Rep. Nearman put everyone in the Capitol in serious danger and caused fear among Capitol officials and lawmakers, ”Kotek said in a statement to OPB.
“I have called on him to step down in January and renew my call in light of today’s allegations.”
Republicans are largely silent about Nearman.
“If the investigation shows that the actions taken were criminal, the lawmakers are not above the law and will be held accountable,” said Rep. Christine Drazan, leader of the House Republican Caucus, said in a statement.
Because we affirm the need for a fair trial and the public’s right to participate fully in the work of the legislature, we are committed to protecting public safety and holding accountable those who would willfully undermine that commitment. ‘