LANSING The FBI raided the Allendale home of Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on Thursday and arrested him on charges related to the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Kelley was arrested “on misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach,” and is to appear in federal court in Grand Rapids Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Kelley, 40, is charged with 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, according to a criminal complaint.
Generally, all of those misdemeanors carry penalties of up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000 on each charge.
Special Agent Mara Schneider, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit, confirmed that federal agents used a search warrant to enter Kelley’s home.
Kelley’s arrest came just hours before a Democratic-led U.S. House committee was to hold its first public hearing related to its investigation into events surrounding the attack on the Capitol, while Congress was meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Kelley, who sells real estate, was at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. when protestors rioted and illegally entered the building on Jan. 6, 2021, though he never confirmed he went inside and has denied doing anything illegal.
In an affidavit related to Thursday’s complaint, an agent said Kelley was seen on video “wearing a black hat and a black coat … in a crowd of people who are assaulting and pushing past law enforcement officers.” Kelley also “climbed onto and stood on an architectural featurenext to the North West stairs and indicated by waving his hand that the crowd behind him shouldmove towards the stairs” leading into the building, the affidavit said.
The same person is seen in the Capitol courtyard and moving toward the entrance to the building, according to the FBI affidavit, which does not cite video evidence of Kelley inside the building.
“Just days after their field was cut in half due to corruption and mass fraud, Republican gubernatorial candidates callous disregard for the principles of democracy was on full display again today,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, in a statement.
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A Kelley campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, though the words “political prisoner” appeared Thursday on Kelley’s gubernatorial Facebook page.
Neighbors in Allendale had mixed opinions on Kelley. Speaking to reporters following his Thursday arrest, one neighbor called the arrest unsurprising.
“I know them a little bit, I think he’s a phony, a fake,” said Kenzi Gardiner, a lawyer who lives in the same neighborhood as Kelley. She said her son plays with Kelley’s children.
“He puts up this front they’re this perfect family and we know otherwise. It’s just crazy. He’s getting what he deserves, he went to a rally he wasn’t supposed to be at. He did this to himself.”
Another neighbor, Ben Miller, said he saw six to eight vehicles outside Kelley’s home and noticed the law enforcement presence, which was unexpected in their quiet neighborhood.
“They’re super nice, very pleasant people,” Miller said. He didn’t see Kelley’s arrest.
Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, questioned why federal authorities would raid Kelley’s home over misdemeanor charges.
“Democrats are out in force weaponizing our justice system and targeting their political opponents,” Maddock said on Twitter.
Kelleys only experience in government came in Allendale, where he was an appointed member of the townships planning commission, starting in Dec.2019. He is no longera planning commission member, according to the township’s website.
In June 2021, the Michigan Democratic Party shared avideo of Kelley outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 of that year. In the video, Kelley appears to shout: “Come on, let’s go! This is it! This is this is war, baby!” (WARNING: Explicit language)
Kelley’s involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot had prompted some Allendale residents to call for his removal during township board meetings in Jan. 2021. Kelley had also clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in Allendale in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
Kelley also drew ire from residents for his defense of a controversial statue in the townships Garden of Honor depicting a Confederate soldier as part of its Civil War memorial. Kelley organized multiple rallies around the statue, at one point garnering criticism for inviting William Null, one of the suspects facing felony charges in Antrim County’s 86th District Court for his role in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Oct. 2020.
Before the 2020 presidential election, Kelley suggested he tried to work with the FBI to argue Whitmer’s pandemic orders violated the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year on his Facebook page, Kelley posted, “(On) July 31, 2020 I met with the DOJ and FBI to discuss Whitmers violations to the Constitution. After that meeting I had several follow ups with US Attorneys and Special Agents. Then I began messaging the Speaker of the House and several other legislators multiple times calling for the impeachment of Whitmer.”
However, Kelley has been increasingly critical of the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice since the Jan. 6 attack. He’s criticized theirroles in prosecuting participants in the riotand their prosecution of Michiganders accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer.
“When do all the FBI billboards go up asking for identification/any information of the mules/organizations used to steal the 2020 election, like they did J6 protesters? Asking for every American that actually cares about our Republic,” Kelley posted in May, alluding to a debunked video that alleges mass voter fraud in Michigan and other states.
He’s also repeatedly spread the conspiracy that Whitmer worked with the FBI to concoct the kidnapping plot against her, an unfounded accusationthat gained steam after a jury acquitted two defendants and failed to reach any conclusion on others accused in the plot.
Fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Rinke also appeared to imply possible misconduct by the FBI in Kelley’s arrest, suggesting the federal agency timed their actions to correspond with the first public hearing of the congressional committee investigating the root causes of the Jan. 6 attack.
“I respect Ryan Kelley and have met him out on the trail. My hope is that the FBI is acting appropriately, because the timing here raises serious questions. Praying for him and his family,” Rinke tweeted Thursday morning.
As of Monday, federal authorities have arrested more than 800 people in connection to the Jan. 6 assault, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Free Press staff writer Tresa Baldas contributed.