SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A Chicago man charged Wednesday for storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6th is also heavily involved in the campaign to elect state Senator Darren Bailey governor.
Lawrence Ligas, a 62-year-old man, was arrested and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
Ligas, who was listed as a paid field organizer for the Illinois Republican Party in 2014, could not be reached for comment. His name, contact information, and photographs all appear regularly on Bailey’s campaign website and social media pages.
Federal prosecutors say they matched Ligas to surveillance images and social media videos from inside the Capitol building. They obtained a search warrant and say they confirmed his involvement in the raid.
Photos posted to Bailey’s Facebook page show Ligas organized an October fundraiser for Bailey’s campaign and helped campaign with him on Halloween at his Chicago home. While campaign finance records do not report any recent payments to Ligas, he was also wearing Bailey campaign attire while he was in attendance at the Illinois State Fair on Republican Day in August. At that event, Ligas disrupted a press conference to shout at the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party for not allowing Bailey to speak on stage. The Bailey campaign also publicly thanked Ligas by name in several social media posts, and listed him as a campaign contact on their website.
“We’re shocked by this news and we do not condone any illegal activities,” Bailey’s campaign spokesman Joe DeBose said in a statement to media outlets when the news broke. “He has never been a member of our campaign staff. We support law and order and trust the court system to ensure anyone breaking the law is held accountable for their actions.”
Gary Rabine, who is running against Bailey in the Republican primary contest, reacted to the news of Ligas’ arrest in an emailed statement.
“What happened on January 6th is not acceptable. Anyone convicted beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime on January 6th should be prosecuted,” Rabine said through a spokesman. “Standing up for law and order should unify – not divide – Democrats and Republicans.”
The campaigns for Republican primary hopefuls Jesse Sullivan and Paul Schimpf did not respond to requests for comment about Ligas’ involvement in the January 6 riot.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who has said he’s considering a potential run for governor, condemned the rioters and suggested Bailey is not fit to lead the state.
“The angry mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 attacked our democracy and they deserve to be held accountable,” Kinzinger said. “Those who would encourage these perpetrators and continue to embrace the Big Lie are not equipped to serve as serious leaders.”
During the insurrection, Bailey told his Facebook followers in a livestream video that he didn’t know who was behind the raid, despite overwhelming video evidence the rioters were Trump supporters.
His wife and campaign manager both follow a Facebook page linked to Ligas that showed live video from the Capitol steps on January 6 with the caption, “I attempted to enter the Capital (sic) building to speak to Senators and ask them to support a forensic audit to stop the steal. Federal police threaten me with arrest.”
Roughly four hours later, the same page posted another live video with a man claiming they exited the Capitol building after hearing gunshots in a crowded hallway.
The Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI) also responded to Bailey’s close ties to Ligas, and called on the first-term state senator to denounce him and his actions.
“The January 6 attack on our democracy was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” DPI Executive Director Abby Witt said. “Now, we find out that one of the attackers has since been working with and representing the campaign of Darren Bailey, a Republican candidate for governor. When it comes to the traitors of January 6, there must be no equivocation: Darren Bailey must immediately denounce Mr. Ligas and revoke any and all association with him at once. The governor’s office is no place for associates of traitors to this great nation.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Senator Bailey’s Facebook livestream video where he discussed the Capitol riot was broadcast on the morning of January 7th. It was broadcast at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, roughly 13 minutes after former President Trump tweeted a video and told his supporters to “go home in peace.”