The “Special Committee on December 21, 2020” would take up a resolution proposed by Kotek attempting to formally confirm that Rep. Mike Nearman “engaged in disorderly behavior” for supporting protesters, who were among a crowd of Trump supporters and members of the right-wing Patriot Prayer group, into the building on that day as the legislature was gathering. The resolution would dismiss Nearman from the chamber if approved by a two-thirds majority.
Kotek, who had already taken away Nearman’s committee assignments and commission meetings, cited in her announcement video reports by local news from over the weekend that shows Nearman telling a group of people how they could get into the Capitol with his help.
In the footage, Nearman explains a plot called “Operation Hall Pass,” about which he said he would claim ignorance if pressed on it.
“If you accuse me of knowing something about [it], I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be … ” he said as he offered a phone number.
“But that was just random numbers that I screened up,” he said. “That’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say, ‘I am at the west entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there.”
Security footage circulated in January shows Nearman opening a door from inside the Capitol and allowing protesters to enter the building. He was charged on two misdemeanor counts in April for his part in the events of Dec. 21, including first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass.
“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 in a news release announcing the special committee. “He knowingly put the physical safety of everyone in the Capitol – lawmakers, staff, and law enforcement – in jeopardy.”
Kotek also cited the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol, saying, “The ramifications could have been dire if law enforcement had not stepped in so quickly. … It is beyond a workplace conduct issue and must be treated as such.”
The committee is composed of three Democrats and three Republicans and will meet later this week to take up the resolution, according to Kotek’s announcement.
Nearman downplayed his charges and slammed investigators in a May interview.
“The two things that I've been charged with, neither one are felonies. Both are misdemeanors. And the Oregon State Police spent four months investigating me, so I don't know, do you think these guys have anything better to do?” he told conservative radio host Lars Larson.