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Ex-Oregon GOP state lawmaker banned from state Capitol after pleading guilty to misconduct charge

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By Jenn Selva and Devan Cole, CNN

Former Oregon GOP state Rep. Mike Nearman has been banned from the state Capitol and its grounds after pleading guilty Tuesday to official misconduct in the first degree, a charge that stemmed from an incident in December in which he helped protesters enter the closed building.

Nearman was sentenced to serve 18 months of probation and to perform 80 hours of community service, according to a release from the Marion County district attorney’s office. He was also ordered to pay $2,700 in restitution for damage caused to the building, in addition to the ban.

CNN has reached out to Nearman’s attorney for comment.

Nearman had been charged with misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass, according to court records, in connection with help he gave to protesters opposed to the state’s Covid-19 restrictions. In early June, newly surfaced video showed him appearing to give protesters insights into how to access the state Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police in December 2020.

In the 78-minute video reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, Nearman is seen speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up “Operation Hall Pass.” The clip, which is posted on YouTube, says it was streamed on December 16, 2020.

At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance that this will allow them to “develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing.”

It is unclear whether he is aware he’s being recorded. Later in the video, Nearman and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access to the building and whom to call.

Surveillance video at the state Capitol allegedly shows Nearman leaving the building on December 21 through a locked door that was surrounded by anti-restriction protesters, which allowed the protesters to enter.

Protesters were not able to enter the main chamber, but there was a physical confrontation with officers during which, Oregon State Police said, “a protester sprayed some kind of chemical irritant.”

Nearman was expelled by the state’s House of Representatives in June, after every Republican in the chamber said in a letter that they “strongly recommend” he resign from his position in the legislature.

“Given the newest evidence that has come to light regarding the events of December 21, 2020, it is our belief as friends and colleagues that it is in the best interests of your caucus, your family, yourself, and the state of Oregon for you to step down from office,” the letter said at the time.

Early this year, in a statement reported by The Oregonian, Nearman said he was subjected to “mob justice,” does not condone violence and that the Capitol is constitutionally required to remain open to the public.

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CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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