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Former Oregon lawmaker pleads guilty to letting rioters into state capitol building

Given fine and 8 months probation
Oregon statehouse capitol building
Posted at 1:02 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 13:02:43-04

SALEM, Ore. — A former Oregon lawmaker who was expelled for letting violent, far-right protesters into the state Capitol has pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct.

The Statesman Journal reports that Mike Nearman was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months probation, during which he will need to complete 80 hours of community service and is banned from the Capitol building and grounds.

He will also pay $200 in court fees and $2,700 to the Oregon Legislative Administration for damages done during the Dec. 21 riot.

Nearman appeared defiant while entering his plea on Tuesday.

"I opened a door of the Capitol, I went out, and that allowed people to enter," Nearman said, according to Oregon Live and Oregon Public Broadcasting, when asked by a judge to describe his actions to the court.

The judge then reportedly suggested that there was "more to the story" and that Nearman was admitting to receiving a benefit for his actions.

"The benefit was that the citizens were allowed in the Capitol," Nearman said.

"Are you telling me that the benefit that you were seeking to confer was on the public being able to enter?" Pellegrini asked.

"It would make me appear favorable to certain citizen groups," Nearman said. "I don't support what they did when they entered."

Right-wing rioters stormed the Oregon Capitol on Dec. 21, amid a protest against COVID-19-related restrictions. Five days prior to the riot, a video was posted to YouTube that showed Nearman explaining to a group in vague terms about accessing the state capitol through its west entrance.

Surveillance video from Dec. 21 showed that Nearman left the Capitol through a locked door that was surrounded by protesters. The protester's confrontation with the police in the building occurred shortly afterward.

After reports of the Dec. 16 YouTube video went public, Nearman was charged, and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek introduced a resolution to expel Nearman.

On June 10, Nearman became the first member of the Oregon House to be expelled in its 160-year history after a 59-1 vote.