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FBI Assists Whitmer Regime in Trying to Pick-Off Another Mich. GOP Challenger

'He may get more votes than he would have otherwise...'

(Headline USA) A Republican candidate for Michigan governor was charged with misdemeanors Thursday for his role in the 2021 post-election uprising at the U.S. Capitol, further complicating an already messy GOP primary and fueling new suspicions that far-left Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may be weaponizing the bureaucracy against her political rivals.

Ryan Kelley, 40, was arrested in western Michigan and appeared at a brief hearing in federal court in Grand Rapids, where he was released from custody without posting bail. The government did not ask that Kelley be detained.

Ron Weiser, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said Democrats were weaponizing the justice system in an “unprecedented way.”

“It’s shameful and must end,” he said.

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Kelley, a real estate broker who lives in Allendale Township, is accused of disruptive conduct, injuring public property and entering restricted space without permission, according to the criminal complaint.

His arrest came hours before the partisan House committee investigating Jan. 6 held a primetime, Hollywood-produced public hearing, as Democrats seek a reboot on the upcoming midterm elections.

Kelley walked away from the courthouse, joined by his wife and other family, saying only that he would comment later. His campaign posted on Facebook two words: “political prisoner,” and the chairman of the state GOP accused Democrats of “weaponizing our justice system” against poltical opponents.

Defense attorney Heath Lynch said Kelley “has every intention of continuing his campaign in earnest.”

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Whitmer, a George-Soros-backed star among socialist progressives, has been subject to considerable criticism for her authoritarian overreach during the coronavirus pandemic and repeated ethical scandals—including her use of a never-materialized recall threat to raise campaign funds outside the legal window.

She also is suspected of having worked previously with FBI agents to stage a false-flag hoax attempting to frame a group of right-wing activists with an attempted plot to kidnap her and blow up a bridge.

Whitmer’s earlier flirtations with political corruption helped fuel suspicious in May that she had weaponized the state elections board to target the deep field of potential GOP rivals.

Others suspect Democrat operatives may have involved after five of the 10 candidates, including two front-runners, were dropped from the primary ballot because forged signatures submitted by paid petition circulators left them below the 15,000 needed to make the race.

The four other Republicans in the race are businesswoman and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, who recently was endorsed by the family of former Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the pro-life group Right to Life of Michigan; businessman Kevin Rinke; pastor Ralph Rebandt; and chiropractor Garrett Soldano. Former President Donald Trump has not endorsed anyone in the race.

In a court document made public Thursday, federal investigators said Kelley was recorded on video outside the U.S. Capitol on the day of the uprising, repeatedly waving to the crowd and directing them toward stairs leading into the building.

He used his phone to “film the crowd assaulting and pushing past U.S. Capitol police officers” and was in a crowd that climbed stairs to a Capitol entrance after causing police to retreat, the FBI alleged.

The document included multiple photos of Kelley that the FBI described as screengrabs from video taken that day, with Kelley wearing aviator sunglasses and a baseball cap worn backward, trying to rally the mostly pro-Trump crowd.

Kelley has long acknowledged that he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but said that he didn’t go inside.

He is among more than 800 people who are facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 uprising. It wasn’t clear why authorities decided to move against Kelley now, though the government continues to charge more people in the massive investigation, even nearly 18 months later.

Some supporters questioned the timing. Kelley’s campaign manager, Karla Wagner, told WOOD-TV his arrest is political and an “intimidation tactic” orchestrated by Democrats.

Fellow GOP candidate Rinke said on Twitter that he hopes the FBI is acting appropriately “because the timing here raises serious questions.”

Kelley faces up to one year in prison or a fine of $100,000. Of those already charged, more than 300 people have pleaded guilty, largely to misdemeanor offenses punishable by no more than one year in prison.

Some who’ve pleaded guilty to misdemeanors have been sentenced to short stints behind bars while others have been sentenced to home confinement or probation.

Kelley became a vocal activist in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic, when he protested restrictions put in place by Whitmer. During the early months of the pandemic, he organized a protest at the Michigan Capitol, inviting heavily armed militias to gather inside the statehouse, legally exercising both their 1st- and 2nd-Amendement rights.

After the 2020 election, Kelley was a speaker at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Lansing, telling the crowd that Democrats were trying to steal Trump’s victory.

As a candidate, Kelley said that if elected governor, he would work to cancel contracts with companies that provide voting machines in Michigan and eliminate same-day voter registration.

Kelley has not been considered a front-runner in the field so far, though the arrest could improve his name recognition among GOP primary voters, said Michigan-based pollster Bernie Porn.

Porn said polling by his firm, EPIC-MRA, has shown more than half of Michigan Republicans believe Trump won the 2020 election and had the victory taken from him.

“He may get more votes than he would have otherwise” in the primary, Porn said.

But Kelley’s beliefs about the 2020 election and actions on Jan. 6 may hurt him in a general election if he is the nominee, Porn added.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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