Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on Thursday pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges related to his alleged participation in the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
Kelley has previously claimed that despite storming the Capitol steps on Jan. 6, he did not join the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the building and only engaged in “First Amendment activity” on the day of the insurrection.
Kelley reportedly appeared by video Thursday with his attorney, Gary Springstead, who announced the “not guilty” pleas on behalf of his client, according to the Detroit Free Press. Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia scheduled a Sept. 22 status conference as the next hearing in the case.
Kelley faces charges of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct, knowingly engaging in an act of physical violence against a person or property, and willfully injuring property.
Kelley’s not guilty plea comes a day after he boasted about his allegiance to former President Trump and his election fraud falsehoods during a debate against other Michigan GOP primary candidates. While pushing the Big Lie, each of the four GOP candidates attempted to prove they’re more Trump-y than the rest of the pack.
During the debate, Kelly, who has become the highest-polling Republican in the race since his arrest last month on the Jan. 6-related misdemeanor charges, falsely tied the high cost of gas in the country to Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.
“Jan. 6, 2021, back when gas was under $2 a gallon,” Kelley said, referring to a debunked claim that’s been floating around the internet. “Those were good times.”
Following Kelley’s arrest last month, his lawyer Springstead asked if his client could keep his gun. Springstead argued that Kelley’s request should be granted because he “is a bit of a high-profile candidate in Michigan” who lacks a security team, according to the Detroit Free Press. Springstead reportedly said Kelley “asked that he be permitted to carry his firearm for his own self-defense, during the campaign.”
The judge rejected Kelley’s request, noting that the safety of other people, such as pre-trial officials who will pay visits to Kelley’s home, must be taken into account as well.
The debate among the four unconventional candidates comes after a signature forgery scandal in Michigan shook up the primaries. Five of the other Republicans running for governor failed to make the Aug. 2 primary ballot because they submitted thousands of forged signatures to the state.