(Headline USA) Taking a page from US House Democrats’ failed impeachment effort against former president Donald Trump, leftist lawmakers in Oregon tried to use a right-wing demonstration to go after their political opponents.
Ironically, it occurred in a state where left-wing anarchists were permitted to attack a federal building and wreak general havoc and violence with impunity for months on end, even making death threats against Portland Mayor Tim Wheeler.
But it wasn’t Antifa or Black Lives Matter under fire in the radical state legislature.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek instead wants to expel a Republican lawmaker who, she claimed, allowed violent protesters into the state capitol in December. Some fellow Republicans said Monday they want him out too.
Video that emerged late Friday in local news reports that apparently showed Rep. Mike Nearman choreographing how he would let protesters into the capitol, which was closed to the public, exploded like a bombshell in the Legislature on Monday. For even the minority Republicans in the House, it was too much.
“Today, we strongly recommend that you resign from the Oregon State House of Representatives, House District 23 position,” all 22 Republicans in the House said in a joint letter to Nearman.
“Given the newest evidence that has come to light … it is our beliefs as friends and colleagues that it is in the best interest of your caucus, your family, yourself, and the state of Oregon for you to step down from your office,” they said.
Kotek, a Democrat, also introduced a resolution that says if two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives concur, Rep. Mike Nearman would be expelled from the House.
Minutes before the House opened its floor session late Monday morning, her office announced that Kotek appointed a committee to consider expulsion.
The committee, composed of three Democrats and three Republicans, will convene later this week and take up the resolution, Kotek’s press release said.
But with Republicans now calling for Nearman to step down, his fate appeared sealed. If Nearman does not resign, there was little doubt that an overwhelming number of House members would vote to cast him out.
The incident on Dec. 21 rattled lawmakers and staff inside the capitol and foreshadowed the Jan. 6 uprising the U.S. Capitol. Several of those who were among the crowds in Salem on Dec. 21 later were in Washington for the mostly peaceful rally opposing the widespread, systemic vote fraud that occurred during the 2020 election.
As lawmakers met in emergency session on Dec. 21 to deal with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, far-right rioters entered the building. They sprayed chemical irritants at police who finally expelled them. Outside, protesters broke windows on the capitol and allegedly assaulted journalists.
Later, security camera video emerged showing Nearman opening a door to the capitol, which was closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing protesters to enter.
Nearman allegedly told people in a video days earlier that he would let them in if they texted him, and he provided his cell phone number. The existence of the video was first reported Friday by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
In her resolution, Kotek said personnel who were authorized to be in the Oregon Capitol described the events on Dec. 21 as intense and stressful, terrifying and distressing.
“Law enforcement officers were visibly injured and shaken due to the demonstrators’ action,” Kotek added.
“The severity of Representative Nearman’s actions and last week’s revelation that they were premeditated require a special committee to immediately consider expelling him from the House of Representatives,” Kotek said. “He knowingly put the physical safety of everyone in the Capitol -– lawmakers, staff and law enforcement -– in jeopardy.”
Her resolution cites the Oregon Constitution, which empowers the House of Representatives to punish a representative for disorderly behavior.
“With the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives, Representative Nearman [should] be expelled from the House of Representatives,” the resolution says.
A reporter went to Nearman’s office in the Capitol to get his reaction. A woman sitting at a desk in the anteroom demanded to know how the reporter got there, then said the lawmaker was not present. She refused to comment, went into Nearman’s office and shut the door.
Nearman, who didn’t respond to messages seeking comment, also faces two misdemeanor criminal charges and has said he will seek a trial by jury.
“The Oregon State Police spent over four months investigating me. … Do you think these guys have anything better to do?” Nearman said on a conservative radio show last month.
Kotek said police in the state Capitol prevented the situation from escalating.
“As we saw in January at the U.S. Capitol, the ramifications could have been dire if law enforcement had not stepped in so quickly,” Kotek said.
One person was killed at the US Capitol revolt. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot by an unidentified law-enforcement officer with no warning while attempting to climb through a broken window.
Four others died of causes unrelated to the violence: three due to medical conditions and one due to drug overdose. One of those was Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, a Trump supporter who died of a stroke on the evening of the protest.
Democrats dishonestly attempted to claim for weeks afterward that Sicknick had died on scene after being assaulted with a fire extinguisher, and they used those claims in their attack on Trump.
More than 400 demonstrators who entered the Capitol—many having done so peacefully after being let into the public building by Capitol officials—have now been arrested and charged by the Biden Justice Department, with some reportedly being indefinitely detained in violation of their constitutional rights.
Members of the new committee are Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene; Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby; Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland; Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles; Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego; and Rep. Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press