FBI agents have arrested one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for governor in Michigan over misdemeanor charges related to his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Ryan Kelley, a frequent right-wing protest leader who attended the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, was one of the few remaining gubernatorial candidates on the Republican side left standing after a massive signature forgery scandal wiped out the race’s previous slate of top contenders.
“Ryan Kelley, 40, of Allendale, Michigan, was arrested this morning on misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach,” Bill Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said in an email.
“He was arrested in Allendale. Mr. Kelley is to make his initial appearance this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.”
A criminal complaint listed four charges against Kelley: Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, knowing engaging in any act of physical violence against a person or property in any restricted building or grounds, and willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States.
An FBI agent’s affidavit noted that the bureau received “numerous” tips that Kelley had been at the Capitol on Jan. 6, including one just 10 days after the attack. One of the people who identified Kelley was a confidential human source who’d been working with the FBI since 2020 “to provide information about Domestic Terrorism groups in Michigan,” the affidavit said. The source allegedly spotted Kelley on a news media video.
Citing video footage from the riot, the affidavit pieced together Kelley’s alleged whereabouts during the attack, starting near the scaffolding on the western side of the Capitol, where a man identified as Kelley, dressed in a black coat and aviator sunglasses, allegedly filmed the crowd assaulting Capitol Police officers. As the police officers retreated, Kelley allegedly began to climb up the scaffolded stairs, at one point “waving his hand that the crowd behind him should move toward the stairs,” the affidavit said.
Video then allegedly showed Kelley supporting another rioter who pulled a metal barricade onto the scaffolding.
Kelley then allegedly pulled the covering off of the temporary inauguration grandstands. He allegedly continued gesturing to the crowd to move toward the stairs.
According to the affidavit, the farthest Kelley got was the North West Courtyard at the top of the steps, just outside the Capitol doors. He allegedly motioned with his thumb “towards the doors to the interior of the U.S. Capitol Building,” the affidavit alleged.
Kelley built a name for himself railing against COVID-19 health measures. He also organized a protest of the removal of a Confederate statue near his home.
The affidavit identified Kelley in part due to his activism in Michigan, including during a November 2020 “Stop the Steal” rally in Lansing, outside the state Capitol, where he said, “We’re going to stand and fight for America, for Donald Trump. We’re not going to let the Democrats steal this election.”
Kelley is one of a small handful of Jan. 6 defendants to be involved in two Capitol breaches: He was the organizer of an April 2020 protest in which right-wing Michiganders stormed the state Capitol to protest COVID-19 rules. CNN reported at the time that Kelley claimed to have “worked with state police to allow uniformed members of a militia to work security outside.” Some of the militia men inside the Michigan Capitol that day were later charged in connection to what authorities say was an plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.
Read the charges against Kelley below:
Read the FBI agent’s affidavit below:
This breaking news story will be updated.