Casey Kulla: Nearman has forfeited right to hold public office


I take my oath of office seriously. I feel strongly that elected officials should try their darndest to work together, to act in a civil manner, to keep conflict down, and to strive daily to promote the health and safety of their community. I detest the tired cliché of politicians raising hell to divide people.

So, with regret and disappointment I say this: State Representative Mike Nearman needs to resign. Immediately.

He endangered Capitol staff, colleagues, protesters, reporters and law enforcement officers by intentionally opening a door at the Capitol during the December 2020 special session and allowing protesters into the locked Capitol building. If you are not familiar with the video of this event, you can watch it here: www.oregonlive.com/politics/2021/01/video-clearly-shows-rep-mike-nearman-helping-right-wing-demonstrators-breach-oregon-capitol.html .

You might ask, “How do you know he did this intentionally?” Or, “Well, what’s the harm in him letting folks in to exercise their free speech rights?” Both are totally legitimate questions.

First, based on the context as detailed in a pair of Oregonian articles, it appears his actions were intentional: He knew protesters were trying to enter a building closed to the public, and he opened the door for them. You can watch it for yourself.

Second, free speech is a cherished right we should protect vigorously. But the old saying goes that your right to punch me extends only to just before my nose, the point being that speech loses its privilege when it causes harm. And let me tell you, as soon as the protesters entered, they sprayed a caustic substance in the faces of state troopers, then assaulted to gain deeper entry.

Someone standing on the steps shouting is engaging in protected expression. Someone forcing their way into the Capitol and assaulting officers is not protected expression.

I don’t know for sure if Rep. Nearman received any of the e-mails I received over the previous week about plans for the event, but odds are pretty good he did. If so, he would have encountered phrases like “awash with blood” and imagery about frontier justice. I do not mention this lightly, but I believe some of the participants intended the event to be violent.

Another saying goes like this, “There is always one more fact in every person’s case about which we know nothing.”

So yes, there may be more to this story. There may be mitigating circumstances. I have tried not to rush to judgment.

If the representative did not intend to let folks in, if he did not understand what they intended, if he did not know that the building was closed, then he should tell us so. And members of the House Republican caucus should share what they know, too.

Neither has spoken, so far as I know, but I would welcome their thoughts. In the context of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, clearly intended to disrupt the democratic process, I can only conclude he was knowingly helping disrupt the democratic process here, too. And he endangered people with that decision.

So I repeat: Rep. Nearman endangered staff, protesters, colleagues, reporters and duly-sworn law enforcement by his actions. He should resign.

Casey Kulla is a Grand Island farmer elected to the non-partisan county board of commissioners in 2018.



Thank you commissioner Kulla.
Nearman’s actions are so egregious that there can be no middle ground. If elected leaders refuse to speak out and condemn Nearman, it should be assumed that they support and agree with his actions......why has only one Yamhill County Commissioner taken an ethical stand.....?

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