D.C. judge bars Ryan Kelley from possessing firearms, will allow in-state travel

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley will not be allowed to possess a firearm or travel out of state in some circumstances while he faces federal misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. 

Kelley requested through his attorney during a Thursday hearing in federal court that he be allowed to continue carrying a firearm while campaigning as "high-profile candidate" because he doesn't have security. Kelley appeared via video conference Thursday before the judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where he is being prosecuted.

"He asked that he be permitted to carry his firearm for his own self-defense during the campaign," said Kelley's lawyer, Gary Springstead, noting the Allendale real estate broker has a concealed carry permit. 

A federal judge has barred Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley from possessing a firearm or traveling out of state while he faces federal misdemeanor charges stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors objected to Kelley continuing to possess firearms ahead of trial, and Judge Robin Meriweather ultimately rejected Kelley's request and maintained standard terms of release for defendants, which prohibit firearm possession. 

Kelley is scheduled to appear next in-person for a preliminary hearing on July 7 in Washington, D.C.

Meriweather did agree to allow Kelley to travel between the eastern and western districts of Michigan and cross into other states while traveling from one part of Michigan to another without notifying pretrial services after requests from Springstead. 

"Mr. Kelley is currently a candidate for governor in the state of Michigan and as such is required to travel throughout the state and also to meet with the press," Springstead said. "... It would be a significant burden for him to have to contact pretrial services anytime he wanted to cross from the eastern district of Michigan to the west or vice versa."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Kelley last week on four misdemeanor charges, hours before the first high-profile hearing by a U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.

Federal authorities in court records said Kelley climbed onto portions of the Capitol, encouraged and gestured to other participants and removed a covering from a temporary structure outside the Capitol. 

His charges include knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct; knowingly engaging in any act of physical violence against person or property in a restricted building or grounds; and willfully injuring or committing depredation against property of the U.S.

Kelley was released last weekon a personal recognizance bond. The charges carry a maximum punishment of up to a year in federal prison or a fine of up to $100,000 for each charge.

Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelly leaves the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Mich., with his family and supporters on Thursday, June 9, 2022. Kelley, a Republican candidate for Michigan governor and ardent defender of former President Donald Trump was charged with misdemeanors Thursday for his role in the 2021 post-election riot at the U.S. Capitol, further complicating an already messy GOP primary.

Federal court records indicate Kelley was under investigation within days of the riot and that authorities used a confidential informant to help with the investigation. They also used several individuals who knew Kelley to confirm it was him in the photos from the riot. Those individuals included an FBI agent who'd interviewed Kelley on July 30, 2020. 

Kelley is one of five individuals who will appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot for the Republican nomination for governor. 

The other candidates include pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills, chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan, businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township and conservative commentator and businesswoman Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores.

Former Detroit police Chief James Craig plans to run as a write-in for the Republican nomination in the August primary.


Staff writers Craig Mauger and Robert Snell contributed.