The FBI arrested Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on Thursday morning and are searching his home, putting behind bars a man who recently led a primary poll for the swing-state governorship.
The U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed Kelley’s arrest, saying in a statement that he faced “misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach.” He’ll make an initial court appearance this afternoon.”
Kelley, a real estate agent, garnered a following on the right by leading protests against Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies.
Kelley was in the crowd of rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and was captured on-camera climbing up scaffolding in a restricted area, helping a man who was moving a police barricade, and egging on other protestors.
The gubernatorial candidate has claimed that he never entered the building itself on that day. The FBI warrant shows a man alleged to be Kelley “in a crowd of people who are assaulting and pushing past law enforcement officers.”
He has a real shot at the GOP nomination for governor, however, because of a major snafu that led multiple top-tier candidates to be kicked off the ballot because their campaigns didn’t submit enough legitimate signatures to get ballot access.
A recent poll showed Kelley led the GOP field with 19 percent support, though most voters are undecided.
Kelley was a featured speaker at a November 2020 “Stop the Steal” rally in Michigan, where he claimed that COVID-19 had been invented to “steal the election” for President Biden, and encouraged the crowd to fight back.
“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 said. “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.”
This story has been updated with new details from the U.S. Attorney’s office.