One of the leading Republican candidates for Michigan governor was arrested by the FBI and charged for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Thursday morning.
Kelley, one of the five remaining candidates vying to dethrone Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was arrested at his home in Allendale on misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach, following a raid of his home by the FBI.
Who is Ryan Kelley?
Kelley, 40, is the owner of a real estate firm in West Michigan. He graduated from Jenison High School in 1999 and attended Grands Rapids Community College.
Kelley was a leading voice against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, and is an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump.
During the early months of the COVID 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?”
Kelley participated in “Stop The Steal” rallies in Lansing, pushing false election conspiracies. He also once urged Republicans to unplug voting machines “if you see something you don’t like happening,” which is not surprisingly illegal, and ineffective (machines have backup batteries and votes are counted by canvassing boards later).
What are the Jan. 6 charges about?
Kelley’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection has been well documented, but no charges had been filed against him until now.
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.
The Kelley campaign is not speaking about the arrest at the moment. He was arraigned on charges and released on Thursday afternoon.
Where does this leave the Michigan GOP governor’s primary race?
Kelley is one of just five remaining GOP candidates for the August Primary Election after several contenders were booted from the ballot for forging petition signatures.
Among those was former Detroit police chief James Craig, thought to be the top candidate to face Gov. Whitmer in November.
A recent MIRS poll had Kelley up by four points among the remaining field.