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Michigan GOP governor candidate Ryan Kelley pleads 'not guilty' re Jan. 6

Ryan Kelley
Ryan Kelley celebrated with supporters in Grand Rapids after he was released from custody following an FBI arrest on June 9, 2022. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)

July 14: Capitol riot charges should force Ryan Kelley off Michigan ballot, suit claims

Michigan gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Kelley is “not guilty” of four misdemeanor charges he faces for his alleged role in riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, his attorney said Thursday at a brief video arraignment in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The Allendale Township Republican is accused of "disorderly and disruptive conduct" in a restricted area and damaging a tarp “covering the northwest scaffolding" outside the U.S. Capitol as supporters of then-President Donald Trump tried to block Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

Kelley has denied entering the Capitol but acknowledged he was outside the building to protest an election he believes was “stolen” from Trump, who lost Michigan by 154,188 votes and did not request a recount. 

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Kelley, a real estate broker, is facing charges in Washington D.C. but appeared in court remotely by Zoom Thursday via video feed from Michigan. Judge Christopher Cooper set a status conference in the case for Sept. 22, meaning Kelley is unlikely to face trial on the criminal charges until well after the Aug. 2 gubernatorial primary. 

Trump has not yet endorsed in the race, which also features Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores, Garrett Soldano of Mattawan, Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Hills and Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills.

In a Wednesday debate, Kelley criticized ongoing congressional hearings on Jan. 6 riots as a “witch hunt” and argued a “majority” of people at the Capitol that day were voicing opinions protected by the First Amendment, “myself included.”

Following the debate, Kelley said he thinks his June arrest by the FBI has helped his campaign, telling reporters he’s “seen the support grow across the state” and “the entire country.”

Kelley argued the FBI has been “weaponized” and is “coming after everybody that loves our country, loves our constitution.” His only crime, he suggested, was “doing well in the Michigan governor race.”

The FBI, in a June affidavit accompanying arrest documents, said agents have compiled evidence showing Kelley encouraged other protesters to enter the Capitol, pulled a "covering" off a Capitol structure and helped another protester who pulled down a metal barricade.

He's charged with four misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in prison: 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; willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States.

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