Michigan GOP gov. candidate Ryan Kelley pleads not guilty to federal Jan. 6 charges

Republican candidate accused of disruptive conduct, injuring public property, entering restricted space

Ryan Kelley, GOP candidate running for Michigan governor in 2022. Photo courtesy of Kelley's campaign website. (Ryan Kelley)

WASHINGTON – Republican candidate for Michigan governor Ryan Kelley on Thursday pleaded not guilty to federal charges connected to his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley was arrested by the FBI on June 9 and charged for participating in the deadly Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. He was arraigned virtually with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning.

The gubernatorial candidate did not speak much during the brief hearing. However, during a debate among Michigan GOP governor candidates on Wednesday, Kelley said he and those present at deadly riot were just exercising their “First Amendment right” to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election, when ex-President Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump and his supporters falsely claimed that the 2020 election was “stolen” from the former president, despite the fact that no evidence of widespread fraud was found.

“That was a First Amendment activity by a majority of those people, myself included,” Kelley said. “We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election, the process of how it happened. And we have that First Amendment right. And that’s what 99% of the people were there for that day.”

According to FBI documents, there is footage showing Kelley on the Capitol steps, climbing the structure and entering the Capitol’s North West Courtyard. Kelley was also said to be “using his hands to support another rioter who is pulling the metal barricade.”

More: Michigan GOP candidate for governor Ryan Kelley arrested by FBI: What we know

The FBI executed a search warrant at Kelley’s home in Allendale Township last month, taking the 40-year-old man into custody. Kelley was arraigned on misdemeanor charges and released that same afternoon. He was arraigned Thursday on federal charges for the same incident.

Kelley is being accused of:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority;
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds;
  • Knowingly engaging in any act of physical violence against person or property in any restricted building or grounds; and
  • Willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States.
Ryan Kelley at Jan. 6 riot. (FBI)

The former Allendale Township planning commissioner is one of five remaining Republican candidates hoping to run against incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the fall. Five former candidates have been barred from running on the primary ballot in August due to insufficient valid nominating signatures.

Read the entire FBI complaint against Kelley below.

Ryan Kelley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate hoping to run against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the fall, is facing new restrictions after being charged for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.