(The Center Square) — A Republican state lawmaker seen on video letting a Trump mob into the Oregon Capitol building in December offered no apologies in a statement on Wednesday.
Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, has since been stripped of his committee assignments, relinquished his keycard access to the Capitol building, and been fined $2,000 for damages to the building from the December 21 incident.
The day saw six officers and two journalists assaulted at the scene by members of the Trump mob who forced their way into the capitol building while Nearman's own colleagues were gathered for a special legislative session.
A Capitol surveillance video first obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting shows Nearman opening a door and letting the mob enter the building the morning of December 21.
The building was and still is closed to the general public due to the pandemic.
In his first substantial statement since then, Nearman claimed he and his wife have both received threats following Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek's announcement last week that he was under criminal investigation by the Oregon State Police for aiding the mob.
Nearman did not take any personal responsibility for the violence and vandalism that ensued on December 21 and largely ignored the concerns of his colleagues.
Instead, he criticized legislative proceedings which suspend face-to-face public testimony and the general public from the capitol building.
“I don’t condone violence nor participate in it,” Nearman wrote. “I do think that when Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be ‘open,’ it means open, and as anyone who has spent the last nine months staring at a screen doing virtual meetings will tell you, it’s not the same thing as being open.”
On December 21, the Democratic-controlled legislature voted to adopt rules allowing them to conduct committee work and a range of other business online during the pandemic.
Nearman additionally claimed Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, held on to the surveillance footage featuring him to coincide with the U.S. Capitol invasion on Wednesday.
Oregon Capitol surveillance footage is kept by the Legislative Administration and not by state lawmakers.
Kotek issued a stern rebuke for Nearman's documented actions last week upon announcing he was under criminal investigation.
"This was a serious, serious breach of public trust," Kotek said. "His actions put staff and legislators and law enforcement in danger."
Kotek is also filing a joint conduct complaint concerning Nearman with the Legislative Equity Office on the grounds that Nearman created a hostile work environment. She and others are also calling for Nearman's resignation.
Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, has declined to call on Nearman to resign while acknowledging that he was seen on video opening a door for the mob.
Drazan argued on Sunday that the Oregon State Police's investigation into Nearman must be allowed to continue.
"The investigation into this incident by law enforcement is underway and must be allowed to be completed," Drazan said. "If the investigation finds that actions taken were criminal, legislators are not above the law and will be held responsible."
Nearman was reelected in November and sworn in at the Oregon capitol building on Monday.