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Michigan candidate for governor charged in connection with Capitol riot

His arrest came hours before the House committee investigating the insurrection holds a widely-anticipated public hearing.
Ryan Kelley, one of five Republican candidates for Michigan governor, has been charged with misdemeanors in connection to the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Ryan Kelley, one of five Republican candidates for Michigan governor, has been charged with misdemeanors in connection to the riot at the U.S. Capitol. [ JAKE MAY | AP ]
Published Jun. 9

DETROIT — Ryan Kelley, one of five Republican candidates for Michigan governor, was charged with misdemeanors Thursday for his role in the 2021 postelection riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley, 40, was arrested in western Michigan and awaits a court hearing in Grand Rapids, FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider said. His arrest came hours before the House committee investigating the insurrection holds a widely-anticipated public hearing, showing never-seen video, audio and an array of evidence collected by the panel exemplifying the deadly violence that erupted that day.

There was no immediate comment from Kelley’s campaign.

Kelley’s participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection has been widely known. In a court document, federal investigators filed photos of him in a baseball cap worn backward, trying to rally the pro-Donald Trump crowd.

An affidavit filed by the FBI says Kelley was captured on video outside the Capitol, where he repeatedly waved to the crowd, directing them toward stairs leading into the building.

He also used his cellphone “to film the crowd assaulting and pushing past U.S. Capitol Police Officers.” He is later seen among a crowd that climbed the stairs to a Capitol entrance after causing police to retreat, the document states.

Kelley, who lives in Allendale Township, is accused of disruptive conduct, injuring public property and entering restricted space without permission, according to the criminal complaint.

Kelley is one of five candidates on the Aug. 2 Republican primary ballot. The winner will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Kelley is among more than 800 people who are facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. More than 300 people have pleaded guilty, largely to misdemeanor offenses punishable by no more than one year in prison. Some who’ve pleaded guilty to misdemeanors have gotten short stints behind bars while others have been sentenced to home confinement or just probation.

Kelley declined to participate in a debate last week because organizers of a public policy conference on Mackinac Island required proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test.

During the early months of the pandemic, Kelley organized a protest at the Michigan Capitol, inviting heavily armed militias to gather inside the statehouse.

He has told The Associated Press that militia members are “law abiding, lawful citizens that love this country, and maybe you get a couple of them that are bad apples. Question for you is, are bad apples pretty much in everything that we have as far as groups?”

By ED WHITE, Associated Press. AP reporters Mike Balsamo in Washington and Sara Burnett in Chicago contributed to this report.

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