Ryan Kelley, a former Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, was sentenced to 60 days behind bars on Tuesday for his participation in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
DC District Judge Christopher Cooper said Kelley was not the most culpable January 6 defendant he has seen, but there was still a need to send a message of deterrence due to Kelley having a strong public following.
“In your case, I have some concerns if you are truly remorseful,” Cooper said during the hearing. “You do have a public platform and people listen to you.”
Kelley, 42, had pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of entering a restricted building or grounds. On January 6, 2021, prosecutors said Kelley made his way to the West Plaza outside of the Capitol. He remained outside of the building for over two hours and encouraged rioters to make more noise. Prosecutors also said he was seconds behind other rioters who were assaulting officers at the front of the police line.
Following the Capitol attack, the government said Kelley used his public platform as a candidate for an elected position to spread false claims. According to court documents, Kelley posted on Facebook that “J6” was an FBI “set up.”
“I think you misused the platform you had as a candidate for elected office,” Cooper said.
Kelley lost the primary race for governor in August 2022. He was arrested on four misdemeanor charges related to the Capitol attack that June. According to court documents, Kelley participated in a local television interview where he shared his intentions to run for governor in 2022. He denied his attendance at the Capitol riot when he was shown photos of himself during the interview.
Prosecutors said it was unclear why Kelley did not go inside the building, while Kelly said he was deterred when he saw rioters climbing scaffolding outside of the building to enter.
“To me, that was a sign that’s not how you enter the Capitol,” Kelley said. “The reason to go inside the Capitol building had diminished for me.”
Kelley said during sentencing that he was misled on January 6, and he wanted to see “receipts” of election fraud for the 2020 presidential election.
“That day I was misled, but I own the actions,” Kelley said. “My actions are my actions, and I own those.”
Cooper ended the hearing by saying Kelley had “certainly made a doozy,” but emphasized Kelley is still a young man and had no criminal record prior to January 6, 2021.
“It’s nothing personal, but I hope to not see you again,” Cooper said.