A Republican state lawmaker charged with opening the Oregon Capitol building doors to rioters says he has fallen ill with COVID-19, The Oregonian reports.
Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) was criminally charged last month for letting right-wing protesters enter the state Capitol on Dec. 21 during a special session.
“I have a really bad case of COVID and I’m kind of on the mend a little bit,” Rep. Mike Nearman said on a conservative radio talk show.
As The Oregonian pointed out last month, Nearman‘s first-degree official misconduct charge is for “allegedly knowingly taking action that constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties to benefit someone else.” He’s also charged for “allegedly abetting another person to enter and remain in the Capitol.”
“The Oregon State Police spent over four months investigating me. … Do you think these guys have anything better to do?” Nearman told the Lars Larsen Show on Wednesday.
While lawmakers were debating whether to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and other COVID-related funding on Dec. 21, demonstrators had gathered outside to protest the state’s COVID restrictions. Security video shows Nearman opening a door to the state Capitol, allowing protesters to breach the building. They then fought with Oregon State Police and Salem police who tried to push them back. The police were ultimately overrun by the protesters — some of whom were armed with guns — after they sprayed police with a chemical substance. The protesters then made their way into the vestibule, where they were met by police who were ultimately able to contain the situation and remove them.
Despite his COVID diagnosis, Nearman thinks pandemic restrictions should be voluntary.
“Let’s set up some options where people have freedom to do what they want,” Nearman said. “If you want to be masked and you want to be quarantined, go be quarantined. If you want to be out in public and that’s an acceptable risk to you, then you can do that.”