On Thursday, Oregon’s House of Representatives approved a resolution, voting 59-1, to eject Republican State Rep. Mike Nearman from the chamber. The lone vote for Nearman came from none other than … Mike Nearman. Nearman makes history, becoming the first person ever expelled from the Oregon legislature. His crime? Helping to plan and then attempt to execute a breach of the Oregon state Capitol building during a December 21, 2020, protest. The breach of the Oregon state Capitol ended with “thousands of dollars in damage and six injured Salem and Oregon State police officers.”
Video of Rep. Nearman letting protesters into the Capitol that day, captured on a surveillance camera, quickly went public, as did video of Nearman coaching a group of potential insurgents in the days leading up to the breaching of the Oregon state Capitol building. While Republicans had stayed mostly quiet as Democratic representatives called for Nearman’s resignation as the weeks went by, it wasn’t until The Oregonian reported on video showing Nearman speaking to a group of constituents just days before the breach of the Capitol building, clearly coordinating with them and giving out his phone number in order to allow this crew of insurgents inside the building. At that point, even Nearman’s craven colleagues knew it was time to cut bait, signing a letter asking him to resign.
Before the vote, Nearman, who refused the call of every single one of his colleagues to resign, wrapped himself up in the deluded snowflake MAGA blanket of crybaby persecution, telling the chamber sarcastically, "The party in power doesn't have to be fair—might makes right.” His argument being that the building being closed to the public at the time was the real problem, not Nearman colluding to break the law. “So, if that's what you want to do, let's do what the people have sent us here to do. Let's decide." They did decide and both might and democracy made right. Democratic state Rep. Julie Fahey spoke during the debate before the vote, saying “This is potentially the most serious and historic vote any of us will ever take in our career as legislators.”
Let us all be clear on Nearman’s defense here. Nearman is positing that he himself was being some kind of courageous patriot … by pretending to just happen to walk out and let in body-armor wearing protesters while his colleagues were doing their jobs. He was clearly trying to give himself some plausible deniability, by walking out, letting in insurgents and disappearing from the building. The only people who search for plausible deniability in things are people doing shit they know they aren’t supposed to do, but are also too chickenshit to actually, full-throatedly admit they did it.
Important to note: Nearman’s pantomime defense—that he just happened to be going outside to take a breather when these folks came through the door he was leaving—was accepted by his GOP colleagues enough that they stayed mum on calls for his resignation for weeks. As fellow Republican state Rep. Bill Post crocodile-teared in a post on his blog, “Mike told us that there is NO further evidence and certainly not any that would show premeditation. In fact, about five weeks ago, as his friend and one of the closest colleagues he has in the Capitol, I asked “is there ANY further video or other evidence?” He said “no.” That is the crux of the problem: he lied. To me personally and to the House Republican caucus. This pains me to no end to reveal. He is my friend.”
The problem was that he lied to fellow Republicans about there being evidence that he planned some kind of criminal action that might put his fellow colleagues in harm’s way, to thwart the democratic process of our country. The problem was the lie, not the actual action? Luckily for America and Oregon, there was video showing Nearman actually planned to break the law. You know, like how if someone had died because of Nearman’s actions it would have been considered second-degree murder as opposed to first-degree.
But video did appear, showing state Rep. Nearman speaking with a group of constituents, about something he jokingly said he didn’t know about called “Operation Hall Pass,” then giving out his cell phone number and saying if he was texted at a certain section of the building he might be able to let people in, that Republicans finally realized it was time to pretend they understood the magnitude of Nearman’s betrayal to Democracy.
“We’re talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about and if you accuse me of knowing something about, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be” and he recites a phone number beginning with 971.
“But,” he continues, “that was just random numbers that I screened up. That’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say ‘I am at the west entrance’ during a session in text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there.
Nearman remained delusional to the end. On Monday, with the reality that Nearman would likely become the first Oregon legislator to be expelled, he reportedly told right-wing radio host Lars Larson that “Someday you’re gonna be watching Jeopardy and somebody’s gonna say, ‘Who is Mike Nearman?’ And that’s gonna be the right answer.” You mean like a question about, say Ted Kaczynski?
Here’s him talking about “Operation Hall Pass”:
And here’s the yellow-bellied patriot letting in guys wearing American flag boots.