U.S. authorities on Thursday charged Ryan Kelley, one of five Republican candidates running for governor in the Midwestern state of Michigan, with a misdemeanor offense for his role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol trying to block certification of Democrat Joe Biden as the new president.
Kelley was arrested at his western Michigan home. His presence at the Capitol that day among thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump has been widely known, although he has never confirmed that he went inside the building and has denied doing anything wrong.
In a court document, investigators filed photos of him in a baseball cap worn backward, trying to rally the crowd supporting Trump as he tried to keep lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election.
The state Democratic Party in Michigan last year released a video appearing to show Kelley standing outside the Capitol building during the riots, apparently yelling, “Come on, let’s go! This is it! This is — this is war.”
In a charging document filed in federal court in Washington, the government did not accuse Kelley of being involved in plotting any attack that day. Instead, it charged him with allegedly knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building illegally; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; and knowingly engaging in acts of physical violence against persons or property.
He also was charged with willfully injuring or committing “depredation” against property of the United States.
More than 800 people have been charged with an array of offenses stemming from the riot nearly a year and a half ago, with more than 300 of them already having pleaded guilty or been convicted at trials, with the remaining cases unresolved.
Kelley’s arrest came on the same day that a House of Representatives investigating committee is opening a string of high-profile hearings on the riot.
Kelley, who sells real estate, is one of five gubernatorial candidates on the August 2 Republican primary ballot. The winner will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the November general election.