Ryan Kelley participates in a GOP gubernatorial debate in Warren, June 30, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins
Just hours after participating in a Michigan Republican gubernatorial debate, candidate Ryan Kelley entered a not guilty plea Thursday to federal charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Ryan, who made the plea via video to a federal judge in Washington D.C., was arrested June 9 during a raid by the FBI at his West Michigan home in Allendale Township.
Kelley traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, to take part in the protests that preceded the attack by former President Donald Trump supporters on the Capitol.
While Kelley has vigorously maintained he never entered the building, authorities allege he climbed through scaffolding for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration stage and then motioned for rioters to advance.
Kelley is facing four counts: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds on Jan. 6, 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, and willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States.
Kelley is next scheduled for a status conference on Sept. 22 that also will be held via video link. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment on each charge of up to a year in federal prison or a fine of up to $100,000.
Kelley is among five Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination. He joins businessman Kevin Rinke, right-wing media personality Tudor Dixon, chiropractor Garrett Soldano and the Rev. Ralph Rebandt.
During a candidate debate Wednesday night in Grand Rapids, Kelley defended his participation in the riot, while castigating law enforcement for his arrest.
“Yes, I was in Washington D.C., on Jan. 6,” said Kelley. “The FBI did raid my house in front of my wife, in front of my children [and] put on this big theater show for misdemeanor charges. And it was the same day that they started their January 6th witch hunt committee that they have going on in Congress right now. And, you know, that was a First Amendment activity by a majority of those people, myself included. We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election, the process of how it happened.”
The rioters were trying to stop the congressional certification of Biden’s win. Trump and top aides plotted several ways for him to stay in power despite losing the election.
The winner of the Aug. 2 Michigan primary will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8.
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