Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley pleads not guilty to Jan. 6 charges
Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four misdemeanor charges connected with his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The FBI arrested Kelley last month, alleging that he was among the crowd on Capitol grounds for roughly two hours on Jan. 6 but had no evidence Kelley had entered the Capitol building.
At times, he allegedly filmed crowds attacking police officers and pulled a covering off a temporary structure, according to authorities.
Kelley is charged with knowingly entering a restricted area without lawful authority, disorderly conduct, knowingly engaging in physical violence in a restricted area and willfully injuring or committing depredation against federal government property.
He pleaded not guilty to all of those charges during a virtual federal court hearing on Thursday morning.
Kelley remains the leading candidate in the state’s Republican primary, scheduled for Aug. 2, according to recent polling conducted after his arrest.
Kelley received the support of 17 percent of survey respondents, with chiropractor Garrett Soldano trailing in second with 13 percent, according to an EPIC-MRA poll.
The winner will take on incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in November.
Kelley has made no secret of his involvement in the Capitol riot, saying he remains a supporter of former President Trump.
“January 6, 2021, back when gas was under two dollars a gallon, those were good times,” Kelley said at a primary debate on Wednesday night.
During the debate, Kelley later said he was in Washington on Jan. 6 but claimed his actions that day were protected by the First Amendment.
“We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election, the process of how it happened, and we have that First Amendment right,” he said. “And that’s what 99 percent of the people were there for that day.”