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Capitol riot charges should force Ryan Kelley off Michigan ballot, suit claims

Ryan Kelley
Ryan Kelley was arrested last month on four misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

July 22: Ryan Kelley survives ‘insurrection’ eligibility suit for Michigan governor

LANSING — A progressive group has helped file a lawsuit against Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley that seeks to keep him off the November ballot because of charges he participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Oakland County resident Lee Estes with assistance from Progress Michigan, comes after Kelley was arrested June 9 by the FBI and charged on four counts of misdemeanor for engaging in the insurrection. 

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Kelley, who denied ever entering the U.S. Capitol on that day, has been charged with knowingly remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct and physical violence on restricted grounds and willfully injuring or committing any depredation against U.S. property.

Kelley has pleaded not guilty to all four charges. The Allendale Township real-estate agent  is one of five Republicans in the Aug. 2 primary that will determine who faces off against incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the Nov. 8 election.

The Thursday lawsuit, drafted by attorney and former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer, alleges Kelley is unfit for office, citing language from the 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution that forbids anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from holding any office in the country.

Kelley does not have to be criminally convicted to be disqualified from office since he violated the law by “voluntarily … assisting the Insurrection or Rebellion,” the lawsuit argued. 

Kelley’s campaign called the complaint “laughable” and deemed the claims “dishonest” and “baseless” in a Thursday afternoon press release.

“Radical left groups like ‘Progress Michigan’ are trying to keep me off the ballot and manipulate voters with dishonest claims, because they know that I am best suited to take on Governor Whitmer in November, and bring Michigan back from her and Biden’s disastrous policies,” the campaign said.

Michigan GOP chair Ron Weiser slammed Brewer’s complaint as an attempt to influence Michigan elections and benefit Whitmer’s rumored bid for president in 2024.

“This Democrat overreach is nothing but a blatant attempt to shore up Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election chances to set her up to run for President after the disaster she’s been as Governor in Michigan,” he said in a Thursday statement. “This extreme attempt will fail and will help us elect a Republican governor to put an end to the disaster Gretchen Whitmer and Joe Biden have been for Michigan. 

Videos the FBI used to identify Kelley show him encouraging others to enter the Capitol building, climbing onto “an architectural feature” near the stairs leading to the building, according to an FBI affidavit. 

Kelley has polled near the top among Republican gubernatorial candidates recently, and he said the arrest boosted his campaign.

Hours after his arrest, Kelley was released on bond and welcomed and greeted by his supporters standing outside the courthouse in Grand Rapids. He has raised more than $16,000 for his legal defense fund and made an appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson show earlier this month, Bridge previously reported.

As of last week, prosecutors had charged almost 900 suspects related to the Jan. 6 riot, and more than 325 of them had pleaded guilty, Politico reported.

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