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Ten Things You Should Know About the Freedom Foundation’s New Oregon Director, Mike Nearman

The anti-worker Freedom Foundation (aka Opt-Out Today) recently announced that they hired Oregon State Representative Mike Nearman to head their failing Oregon effort. Here are the top ten things you need to know about Mike Nearman:

 1) Mike Nearman has been a key leader of an anti-immigrant hate group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR).

The Southern Poverty Law Center designated OFIR as “the most prominent anti-immigrant group in [Oregon]” which has pushed for extreme anti-immigrant policies, made disparaging comments about immigrants and has ties to white supremacists. In one of its many stark positions, OFIR claimed giving drivers cards to undocumented immigrants would aid the spread of Ebola and terrorism.

2) Nearman regularly demonizes immigrants.

Using his platform, Nearman has regularly demonized immigrants, at one point making a speech in the Oregon State House saying that the body needed to protect Oregonians “from diseases carried by illegal aliens, especially those from third world countries where one would expect the diseases are more readily carried.”

3) Nearman is too extreme even for Republicans.

Nearman was elected to the Oregon State House in 2014. After his primary contest against a more moderate Republican, two Republican State Senators immediately built a website disparaging Nearman for his extreme views. Additionally, a group called The Conservative Republican Defense Fund found fault with Nearman and warned voters in a mailer that “electing Mike Nearman for our state representative is bad for our health.”

4) Nearman opposed expanding health care for low-income Oregonians.

Nearman opposed expanding healthcare to low-income Oregonians by coming out strongly against Medicaid expansion. He also opposed compelling insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, equating it with auto insurance companies forced to cover “junk cars.”

5) Nearman regularly voted against working families.

He has opposed nearly all legislation that would help working families in Oregon. His dismal record includes voting against mandatory paid sick leave for employees, voting against providing school lunches to children from low-income families and voting against increased education funding. He also spoke against legislation that would increase the minimum wage for working families.

6) Nearman is supported by a fringe anti-choice group.

Nearman’s key supporters are extreme right-wing organizations, including the largest anti-choice organization in Oregon, Oregon Right to Life. Oregon Right to Life vehemently opposes in vitro fertilization and has asserted that abortion causes breast cancer. For his part, Nearman has compared his support of anti-choice policies to the movement to abolish slavery.

7) Nearman is funded by an extreme anti-LGBTQ group.

Another extremist group that supports Nearman is the Oregon Family Council (OFC), the largest anti-LGBTQ group in the state. OFC opposes same-gender marriage and parenting in the LGBTQ community, saying “marriage between a man and a woman is the optimal environment for raising children.” Nearman was one of two representatives to oppose bi-partisan legislation that would update anti-LGBTQ language in Oregon Statute.

8) Nearman opposed funding for public safety.

Nearman opposed a local levy that would have increased funding for public safety including the Polk County sheriff’s department. The local newspaper called Nearman’s position “unconscionable,” and that Nearman’s politics “have already proved destructive to Polk County.”

9) Nearman opposes common sense gun reform.

Nearman strongly opposes all attempts at gun control and voted against a popular Oregon bill that would expand background checks to private firearm sales. Nearman spoke at the “I Will Not Comply” Rally at the Oregon State Capitol in support of recalling legislators who voted for the bill. He made his speech in front of a flag that read “2nd Amendment—America’s Original Homeland Security,”

10) Nearman has a history of ethics complaints filed against him.

Nearman has had multiple ethics complaints filed against him including one by his Republican Colleague, Brian Boquist, for improperly coordinating with Oregon Right to Life, an extreme anti-choice advocacy group.

Bonus: Even though Mike Nearman works for a group that wants to take away worker’s voices on the job, lower their wages and gut their benefits, he and his wife enjoy all the benefits of the union including wage increases and a pension but do not pay any of the dues.

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