An Oregon lawmaker is facing criminal charges for opening a door to allow demonstrators — some armed — into the closed state Capitol during a special session on Dec. 21.
Rep. Mike Nearman was criminally charged on Friday with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass after a video surfaced of him opening the door to allow the demonstrators into the building.
He had been under investigation since January, the Oregonian reported.
Nearman, a conservative Republican who represents the community of Independence, about 60 miles southwest of Portland, is serving his fourth term in the Oregon House. He is scheduled to appear in court May 11.
He was stripped of his committee assignments by the Oregon House Speaker on Jan. 11. Later that month, 24 state civic leaders and elected officials signed a statement urging Nearman to resign.
Nearman is under fire for his actions during the special session, when the state Capitol was closed to visitors because of the coronavirus. Lawmakers in the building were debating measures related to the state’s virus response and funding for wildfire recovery.
Nearman left the chamber and walked out a door where a group had gathered to protest the virus-related restrictions. Security footage obtained by the Oregonian shows the lawmaker walking around the demonstrators without trying to close the door or prevent them from coming in.
The group entered the building, clashing with police who were trying to push the demonstrators out and close the door. Some in the rowdy crowd sprayed what was reported to be pepper spray at the cops. Others were armed with guns.
Cops were able to push them out of the building. Several demonstrators were later arrested.
When stripping Nearman of his duties, House Speaker Tina Kotek said his actions “put every person in the Capitol in serious danger.”