Advance Notice: Briefs

Judge denies GOP gov. candidate Kelley’s request to carry gun

By: - June 17, 2022 8:21 am

Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley attends a right-wing rally at the state Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Updated, 3:18 p.m., 6/17/22

A federal judge has denied a request by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley to possess a firearm while he faces charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley, who was arrested by the FBI at his Allendale Township home last week, is charged with four misdemeanor 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 one five Republican GOP hopefuls left on the Aug. 2 ballot after five others were tossed off due to a fraudulent petition signature scandal, joining businessman Kevin Rinke, right-wing media personality Tudor Dixon, chiropractor Garrett Soldano and the Rev. Ralph Rebandt. 

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8.

Appearing via video in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, Kelley’s attorney requested that his client, who has a concealed carry permit, be allowed to continue carrying a firearm while campaigning. 

Gary Springstead said Kelley, who he referred to as a “high-profile candidate,” doesn’t have campaign security and wanted the weapon in order to protect himself.

Judge Robin Meriweather sided with federal prosecutors who objected to Kelley’s request, noting that the standard release terms for defendants include a prohibition on firearm possession. Kelley, who is free on bond, must also surrender his passport.

Meriweather, however, granted a defense request to allow the 40-year-old Kelley to avoid notifying pretrial services while traveling within Michigan or crossing into other states while traveling from one part of Michigan to another.

Court documents indicate that the FBI first received an anonymous tip on Jan. 16, 2021, that Kelley was among those who were illegally on the Capitol grounds during the riot.

“This anonymous tip contained the same information posted on the Twitter account “@MichiganTea” in which the same or similar pictures were used to identify KELLEY at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” stated the FBI affidavit, which included a screenshot from the @MichiganTea account.

The affidavit further said numerous people who knew Kelley positively identified him in pictures taken on Jan. 6, including a law enforcement officer from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

A July 7 preliminary hearing was set for Kelley, who will be required to appear in-person in Washington, D.C.

If convicted, Kelley faces a maximum punishment on each charge of up to a year in federal prison or a fine of up to $100,000.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.