Boomers are often guilty of being messy on Facebook—but one boomer who's also a member of the Oregon Legislature seems to have set a new gold standard in the category.
On Thursday, Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek told reporters that there is reason to believe Rep. Mike Nearman—a Republican representing Polk County—intentionally helped right-wing demonstrators gain access to the State Capitol on December 21.
The Oregon Legislature had convened that day for a special session focused on COVID-19 and wildfire relief. A group of right-wing demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol, ostensibly to protest Gov. Kate Brown’s response to the pandemic. The demonstrations quickly turned violent, and was declared an unlawful assembly by the Oregon State Police (OSP).
The Oregon Capitol is currently closed to most members of the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19—but a group of demonstrators managed to make their way into the building during the special session, before being dispersed by OSP.
Surveillance footage obtained by the Oregonian shows Nearman leaving a Capitol door open for the demonstrators to pass through on that day. It’s worth noting that many demonstrators present in Salem that day were openly carrying weapons—and the news about Nearman's participation was particularly sobering coming just one day after a similar pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol.
According to Kotek, Nearman is now the subject of a criminal investigation into his actions. He may also face consequences from his colleagues in the Oregon Legislature.
Nearman has yet to publicly comment on the allegations. However, a brief perusal of his personal Facebook page suggests that Nearman may have been coyly bragging about the incident the next day.
In a post dated December 22, Nearman shared this graphic on Facebook:
“Is there something that I could get away with by claiming that my glasses were fogged up due to my mask?” the text on the graphic reads. “Asking for a friend.”
Taken on its own, this post is hardly an admission of guilt—Nearman could be referring to virtually anything. But a delve into the Facebook comments suggests that some of Nearman’s friends interpreted it as a reference to leaving the Capitol doors open, and considered themselves in on the joke.
“Not helping the men who stood for the Oregon Constitution and were arrested for exercising their rights…” reads one comment.
“Opening the doors to the capital [sic]???” reads another. “Yes!” responded another Facebook user.
These comments were left between one and two weeks ago—well before Kotek publicized the allegations against Nearman.
Nearman didn’t respond or react to these comments on his post—neither to validate nor condemn them. However, his wife, Debora Nearman, used Facebook’s “laughing” reaction to the comment that referenced “helping the men who stood for the Oregon Constitution.”
Debora Nearman also posted this comment—which, while not strictly related to the matter at hand, is disturbing nonetheless:
Taken on its own, Nearman’s Facebook post doesn’t quite prove he’s guilty of helping right-wing demonstrators breach the Oregon Capitol. The fact that it was found within a matter of minutes on a public personal Facebook page, however, does certainly suggest he’s guilty of being very messy online.
And if Nearman was referencing leaving the door open, it also suggests he’s quite pleased with himself.