Michigan GOP candidate Ryan Kelley indicted for role in Capitol riots

DETROIT (AP) — Ryan Kelley, one of five Republican candidates for governor of Michigan and a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, was charged with misdemeanor charges Thursday for his role in the 2021 post-election riot in Michigan. US Capitol.

Kelley, 40, was arrested in western Michigan and is awaiting a court hearing in Grand Rapids, FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider said.

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His arrest came hours before the House committee investigating the insurgency will hold a much-anticipated public hearing, showing never-before-seen video, audio and evidence highlighting the deadly violence that erupted. on January 6, 2021.

There was no immediate comment from Kelley’s campaign.

It’s unclear why authorities have decided to act against Kelley now. He has long acknowledged that he was in the insurrection although he did not enter the Capitol. But nearly 18 months later, the government is still charging more people.

In a court document, federal investigators filed photos of Kelley in a backwards baseball cap, trying to rally the pro-Trump crowd.

Kelley was videotaped repeatedly waving to the crowd and directing them to the stairs leading to the building, the FBI said.

He used his phone to “film the crowd assaulting and pushing back the United States Capitol police officers” and was in a crowd that climbed the stairs to a Capitol entrance after police backed off , indicates the document.

Kelley, a real estate broker who lives in Allendale Township, is charged with disruptive conduct, trespassing on public property and entering a confined space without permission, according to the criminal complaint.

He is one of more than 800 people facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. More than 300 people have pleaded guilty, mostly to offenses punishable by more than a year in prison. Some who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors were sentenced to short stints behind bars while others were sentenced to house arrest or probation.

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In Michigan, Kelley is one of five candidates in the Aug. 2 Republican primary. The winner will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the fall.

His arrest further disrupts a GOP field that initially had 10 candidates. Five of them, including two favorites, were removed from the ballot because fraudulent signatures submitted by paid petition distributors left them below the 15,000 needed to make it to the ballot.

Kelley declined to participate in a Republican debate last week because organizers of the public policy conference on Mackinac Island demanded proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test. He called it a “ridiculous leftist propaganda show”.

After the 2020 election, Kelley spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Lansing, telling a lie that Trump had won the election and the Democrats were trying to steal his victory. In the early months of the pandemic, he staged a protest at the Michigan Capitol, calling on heavily armed militias to gather inside the state house.

He told The Associated Press that the militia members are “law-abiding, legitimate citizens who love this country, and maybe you have a few that are bad apples. The question for you is, are there bad apples in pretty much everything we have when it comes to groups? »

Burnett reported from Chicago. AP reporter Mike Balsamo in Washington, DC, contributed to this report.

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