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Former GOP gubernatorial candidate gets prison time for role in Capitol riot

Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan’s 2022 primary race, was sentenced Tuesday to serve 60 days in prison.

By Alyssa Burr - October 19, 2023
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Ryan Kelley, former Republican candidate for Michigan governor, speaks during a rally outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Feb. 8, 2022. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)
Ryan Kelley, former Republican candidate for Michigan governor, speaks during a rally outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Feb. 8, 2022. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

Ryan Kelley, a former Republican candidate for Michigan governor, was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ordered Kelley to serve 60 days in prison and to pay a $5,000 fine.

Cooper expressed concerns about Kelley using his political platform to spread baseless election fraud conspiracies, citing comments made by Kelley on social media that Jan. 6 was part of an FBI plot.

“A lot of folks voted for you. A lot of folks followed you,” Cooper said.

Kelley, a real estate broker, was arrested during the Michigan gubernatorial primary last year. He placed fourth in the primary contest, garnering 15.1% of the votes.

Conservative media personality Tudor Dixon won the Republican primary, but ultimately lost to incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Kelley pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor count of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, a charge punishable by up to one year in prison.

He traveled from his home in Allendale, Michigan, to Washington, D.C., to attend former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6. At the event, Trump continued to falsely state the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and urged the crowd to “fight like hell.”

Kelley then joined a crowd of protesters marching toward the U.S. Capitol building, which was being prepared for President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration.

Court filings revealed Kelley riled up rioters to move up the Capitol steps toward the building. He also climbed up scaffolding and ripped at an already existing hole in a tarp, allowing rioters further access to the building.

“Rioters overtook police officers at the top of the stairs only minutes after the [sic] Kelley’s ripping of the tarp,” court filings read.

Prosecutors provided photo and video evidence of Kelley pulling the tarp, taking pictures of human blood on the stairs and assisting another rioter in getting through the crowd by moving a bike rack.

Although he never entered the building himself, Kelley spent almost two hours on restricted Capitol grounds.

Following Jan. 6, the filings note, Kelley continued to make social media posts related to the riot. In one instance, he posted a message on Facebook stating, “I did nothing wrong” in reference to Jan. 6. In another, he claimed that “J6” was an FBI “set up.”

The prosecution asked the judge to sentence Kelley to three months in prison. Kelley’s defense attorney requested he only receive probation, according to MLive.

Associated Press data shows more than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection to the Capitol riot. Over 800 have been convicted of crimes, and almost 700 of them have been sentenced.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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