GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) —Ryan Kelley pleaded not guilty on all four misdemeanor charges Thursday during his arraignment that took place via video call.
Kelley was arrested June 9 on misdemeanor charges of 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 person or property in any restricted grounds or buildings and destruction of government property.
The riot happened as a crowd of anti-government groups and supporters of former President Donald Trump that advanced on the Capitol, forcing Congress to pause its certification of the Electoral College in favor of President Joe Biden. More than 800 people — including several from Michigan — have been charged in connection to it.
A criminal complaint filed by the FBI alleges Kelley climbed onto an “architectural feature” of the Capitol and waved other rioters to continue forward. The FBI also says Kelley supported a rioter who pulled a metal barricade onto scaffolding and that he took photos of blood on Capitol grounds. Court documents dated June 22 say he is accused of destroying a tarp covering scaffolding on the Capitol. The damage was valued at less than $1,000.
Authorities do not allege that Kelley entered the building.
Kelley, 40, is a real estate broker who was previously an Allendale Township planning commissioner, though he no longer serves on any township board. He is running for Michigan governor as a Republican. June polls showed him among the front-runners in the primary race, with between 13% and 17% of those surveyed saying they would vote for him. Most of those surveyed — about 45% — had not yet chosen who to vote for on Aug. 2.
Kelley’s campaign has painted the charges against him as political persecution orchestrated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Democrats, though the charges were filed against him at the federal level, separate from the state government, and Nessel’s office says it was not involved.
In the Republican gubernatorial debate on Wednesday, Kelley said he was in Washington during the riot. He argued his actions were protected by the First Amendment.
Kelley is scheduled for a status conference by video appearance on September 22.