FreedomWorks Staffer Faces Charges In Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
|
September 23, 2021 1:00 p.m.

A staffer for the right-wing group FreedomWorks was arrested last week and charged for his alleged involvement in the Capitol attack, court documents unsealed Thursday show. 

Brandon Prenzlin, who had been listed as a “grassroots coordinator” on the FreedomWorks staff page as recently as two weeks ago, had been removed from that page Thursday. 

An FBI agent’s affidavit in support of the charges against Prenzlin cites multiple stills from surveillance video on Jan. 6, alleging that the video showed Prenzlin was allegedly inside the Capitol for 3 minutes and 35 seconds. 

Prenzlin entered the building on its southeast corner and exited with “a number of individuals” known to law enforcement as being present in the Speaker’s Lobby when Ashli Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Police officer, the affidavit alleged, before noting that Prenzlin likely did not reach the scene of Babbitt’s death.

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Prenzlin is charged with four misdemeanors: Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in any of the Capitol buildings. 

Prenzlin was arrested in Arlington, Virginia Friday and appeared via video before Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui of the D.C. District Court on Monday. His initial appearance was set for Nov. 30, and he was released from custody on his own recognizance.

A spokesperson for FreedomWorks, Peter Vicenzi, told TPM that Prenzlin was “no longer employed at FreedomWorks” as of Monday.

“As per company policy, I cannot comment on former employees,” he added. The organization was a key driver of the Tea Party movement and, more recently, of protests against COVID-19 health measures.

H. Heather Shaner, the attorney who represented Prenzlin at his appearance Monday, declined to comment.

An archived FreedomWorks biography for Prenzlin states that he “assists in managing the FreedomWorks grassroots community to identify, engage, and mobilize our activists. Before FreedomWorks, Brandon worked on numerous state legislator races through the East Coast and the South for another nonprofit. Starting as a volunteer locally in Ohio and working his way to staffing federal races before leaving the state and finding his way to FreedomWorks, Brandon knows grassroots.” 

A Twitter account for Prenzlin, as identified in the affidavit against him, promoted FreedomWorks activities until mid-July, when it stopped posting. In one video an FBI agent wrote that he used to identify Prenzlin, the FreedomWorks staffer discussed “the dangers of #HR1,” known as the “For The People Act” — Democrats’ voting rights legislation that stalled against a Senate Republican filibuster earlier this year.

Among other evidence of Prenzlin’s identity, the affidavit stated that law enforcement matched the shoes he was seen wearing during the attack to a June photo of Prenzlin at an event, standing in front of a FreedomWorks table. On June 20, the FBI “conducted physical surveillance” of Prenzlin as he walked through Washington Reagan National Airport, the affidavit said.

This post has been updated.

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