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Oregon not immune from bad actors

Looking at the chaos in Washington, D.C., especially reports that some members of Congress may have played a role in last week’s sacking of the Capitol, it might be comforting to think that, here in Oregon, we are better than that. It would also be wrong.

During the special session of the Oregon Legislature Dec. 21 in Salem, State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, opened locked doors to the state Capitol and admitted protesters who were angry about coronavirus restrictions and enraged that lawmakers were meeting behind locked doors because of concerns about spreading the virus. The protesters, some carrying rifles and few wearing masks, clashed with police officers inside the building and reportedly attacked six state troopers with pepper spray. Some of those outside the building broke windows and attacked journalists.

The Capitol was closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, but reporters were allowed in to witness the proceedings, which were also streamed live so anyone who wished could observe. But the protesters were interested in disrupting, not observing.

Nearman’s disgraceful conduct was revealed in video obtained by The Oregonian through a public records request.

House Speaker Tina Kotek on Monday stripped Nearman of his committee assignments, called for him to resign and said the state will bill him $2,000 for damage caused by the intruders. She also said a formal complaint would be filed that could lead to Nearman’s expulsion.

Nearman should save his colleagues the trouble and resign. His actions put his fellow legislators in danger.

Closer to the Rogue Valley, Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Myrtle Creek, is supporting a group calling itself Citizens Against Tyranny, which opposes restrictions on businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Opposing restrictions is one thing. But Heard and the group have taken it further.

The group obtained the names of two Douglas County women they said had filed complaints with the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration against businesses for failing to enforce COVID-19 safety rules. They posted the women’s names on their website, labeling them “Filthy Traitors,” the words spattered in red to simulate blood.

Heard, whose Senate District 1 includes parts of Jackson and Josephine counties, has encouraged businesses to use public records requests to identify people who turn in businesses for violating COVID rules. He defended the posting of complainants’ names as long as they were verified as having filed complaints.

“Those kinds of people need to be known, publicly,” Heard told the Roseburg News-Review. “They are cowards. They are bullies. They have no right to anonymity.”

It’s clear who the bullies are in this situation. An elected official who advocates harassment against his own constituents for exercising their right to file an official complaint does not deserve to call himself a representative of the people.