FBI Raids Home of Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate, Arrests Him for Alleged Role in Capitol Riot

Ryan Kelley, hoping to earn the Republican nomination for Michigan governor in an upcoming primary election, was taken into custody Thursday morning, PEOPLE confirms

Ryan Kelley, Republican candidate for Governor, attends a Freedom Rally in support of First Amendment rights and to protest against Governor Gretchen Whitmer, outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 15, 2021.
Ryan Kelley. Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP/ Getty

A gubernatorial candidate in the state of Michigan was taken into custody Thursday morning for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.

PEOPLE confirms through online records that FBI agents arrested Ryan Kelley in Allendale, Mich., on Thursday, one day after a criminal complaint was filed against him in federal court.

According to the complaint, Kelley — who is one of five candidates hoping to clinch the Republican nomination for Michigan governor in an upcoming primary election — is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; knowingly engaging in any act of physical violence against a person or property in any restricted building or grounds; and willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States.

A statement of facts detailing the charges paints a picture of Kelley's alleged actions in D.C. on Jan. 6, explaining how a man agents believe to be him climbed onto the Capitol grounds' architectural features, removed the covering from a temporary structure on the grounds, used his phone to film the crowd assaulting police officers, and repeatedly motioned for the crowd to move toward the Capitol entrance.

The statement also highlights Kelley's past involvement with political protests, including speaking at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Lansing in November of 2020, where he is quoted saying, "Covid-19 was made so that they can use the propaganda to control your minds so that you think, if you watch the media, that Joe Biden won this election."

He continued, "We're not going to buy it. We're going to stand and fight for America, for Donald Trump. We're not going to let the Democrats steal this election."

Kelley's arrest comes at a particularly troubling time for the Michigan Republican Party, which is struggling to find a candidate strong enough to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Last month, five GOP candidates for Michigan governor — including two of the frontrunners — were disqualified from the race after state elections officials said they submitted fraudulent signatures on their petitions to run.

The shocking discovery threw the GOP race into flux only two months before the primary, leaving no obvious frontrunner — though some recent polls placed Kelley at the front of the pack.

Responding to Kelley's arrest in a statement shared with PEOPLE Thursday, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said, "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."

Barnes' statement also took the opportunity to criticize the other four GOP gubernatorial candidates.

"Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, and Ralph Rebandt have equally shouldered the same baseless lies about 2020 that spurred Ryan Kelley to storm the capital in search of war," she said. "Michiganders won't forget the role they played in dismantling public trust in democracy."

On Thursday afternoon Ron Weiser, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, released a statement accusing Democrats of "weaponizing our justice system in an unprecedented way against their political opponents."

"We are not a third world nation," Weiser said. "Law and order are the bedrock of our democracy, but justice is not served when it is driven by a political agenda. Families and children are now becoming victims of political theater meant to distract from the failures of Democrat policy. It's shameful and must end."

PEOPLE was unable to reach Kelley and his team on Thursday.

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On Thursday night, the U.S. House committee examining the Jan. 6 Capitol riots will hold its first public hearing, revealing what representatives have learned through an exhaustive investigation involving several interviews.

This week, members of the bipartisan committee have hinted that shocking revelations will be put on display.

In an interview with Washington Post Live on Monday, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said, "The select committee has found evidence about a lot more than incitement here, and we're gonna be laying out the evidence about all of the actors who were pivotal to what took place on Jan. 6."

"We are going to tell the story of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power," he said.

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