Grand Rapids, MI – A GOP candidate for Michigan governor was arrested by federal authorities on Thursday and charged with encouraging others to enter the U.S. Capitol building on the day of the riot.
Ryan Kelley, a 40-year-old Republican real estate agent who is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the GOP primary after leading Republican candidates weren’t allowed on the ballot, was arrested at his home in Allendale by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on Jan. 9, NBC News reported.
FBI officials said that multiple people tipped off the FBI about Kelley having been at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020.
He was identified in a number of photos taken outside the Capitol building that day but has maintained that he never went inside, NBC News reported.
The FBI arrested a GOP candidate for Michigan governor for taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol mob attack.
Prosecutors say Ryan Kelley assaulted and pushed law enforcement and encouraged other rioters. He faces up to 10 years in prison on 4 current misdemeanor charges. pic.twitter.com/yebWYewFCZ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 9, 2022
Although the gubernatorial hopeful never set foot inside the actual U.S. Capitol, the FBI said he encouraged and directed others to breach the restricted area in a criminal manner.
“At approximately 2:20 p.m., Kelley continued to gesture to the crowd, consistently indicating that they should move towards the stairs that led to the entrance of the U.S. Capitol interior spaces,” the FBI said in a statement after the candidate was arrested.
Federal authorities charged Kelley with four misdemeanors, The Detroit News reported.
He is facing charges that he knowingly entered or remained in a restricted building, knowingly engaged in any act of physical violence against person or property in a restricted building or grounds, willfully injured or committed depredation against property of the United States, and disorderly and disruptive conduct.
Court documents described Kelley as an active participant in the riot who climbed onto parts of the Capitol building and yelled encouragement to participants in the riot, The Detroit News reported.
Authorities have also accused Kelley of removing a covering from a temporary structure that was outside the Capitol.
If convicted, the candidate is facing up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine for each charge, The Detroit News reported.
He was released later the same day he was arrested on a personal recognizance bond.
The slate of candidates for the GOP primary is already in upheaval in Michigan after five out of 10 candidates were ruled ineligible for the ballot when it was discovered that a company hired to collect signatures had submitted fraudulent petitions.
Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig had been considered the front-runner until he was disqualified, NBC News reported.
Craig announced that he would continue his campaign and run as a write-in candidate.
Kelley called his arrest a “political witch hunt,” The Detroit News reported.
The candidate denied entering the U.S. Capitol during the riot and said “the rest of the story, as the court case plays out, we’ll be sharing more on that at some point in the near future.”
ALERT: Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley is arrested in US Capitol breach case
Kelley is accused of gesturing crowd to move forward on the grounds on Jan 6
Charging docs detail his feature role in Nov 2020 Michigan "Stop the Steal rally" pic.twitter.com/4GfXV3L0Pe
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) June 9, 2022
He said he didn’t regret having attended the rally in DC on Jan. 6, 2020 and said the crowd was “celebrating America,” The Detroit News reported.
“It’s going to be remembered for a very long time, I’ll say that much,” Kelley said.
He said his campaign remains at “full steam ahead,” The Detroit News reported.
“The governor’s race is still on,” Kelley said. “If you didn’t know me before, you know me now. Nothing changes with the race.”