ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Republican member of the Maryland State Board of Elections has resigned after being arrested by the FBI this week on felony and misdemeanor charges for participating in rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Carlos Ayala was arrested on Tuesday in Maryland, according to court records. He was released on personal recognizance.
Michael Summers, the chair of the state elections board, said in a statement Thursday he has accepted Ayala’s immediate resignation.
“The board is committed to maintaining the security and integrity of our elections in Maryland in a non−partisan manner,” Summers said. “The State Board will remain steadfast in our mission to oversee our elections process and serve as a trusted source of information for all Marylanders during the presidential election year.”
James Trusty, a lawyer representing Ayala, declined to comment.
Ayala, of Salisbury, Maryland, was appointed to the board last year by Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, after Ayala was recommended to the governor by the Maryland Republican Party. He was confirmed by the Maryland state Senate after the chamber rejected the previous nomination of another potential appointee.
Senate President Bill Ferguson described the arrest as “incredibly surprising and distressing.” The Baltimore Democrat said when he spoke to Ayala during the confirmation process “he certainly didn’t seem like someone that would have participated in such activities.”
“When democracy is under threat, we can’t make any assumptions,” Ferguson said. “Nothing is predetermined.”
The board, which ensures compliance with Maryland and federal election laws, is comprised of five members who serve four−year terms.
Ayala, 52, allegedly was identified among a group of rioters illegally gathered on restricted Capitol grounds near scaffolding erected for the inauguration, according to court records. He allegedly wore a sweatshirt hood, and he carried a black and white flag affixed to a PVC pipe flagpole bearing the words “We the People” and “DEFEND.” Featured prominently on the flag was an image of an M−16−style rifle.
Ayala is seen on video footage climbing over police barricades and making his way to the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol as rioters overran the police lines on the stairs adjacent to the scaffolding, according to a news release from federal prosecutors. Ayala then moved toward the front of the crowd gathered outside the Senate wing door of the Capitol, the release said.
Closed−circuit television footage from inside the U.S. Capitol, near the Senate wing door, shows Ayala waving his flag inside one of the windows next to the door. A U.S. Capitol Police officer then motioned Ayala away from the window.
Authorities say Ayala then moved toward a door, which had been previously breached by rioters and where officers had erected a barricade.
Video footage shows a rioter in the same area where Ayala was present, jabbing a flag and flagpole at an officer, who proceeded to grab the flagpole and pull the flag into the building to prevent the rioter from knocking the officer’s shield away or injuring other officers, the news release said.
The flag matched the description of Ayala’s flag, which he was holding moments before, according to court records.
Less than 30 seconds after the altercation during which the officer pulled Ayala’s flag into the building, the Senate wing door was breached by rioters and pulled open, court records say. Within seconds of rioters opening the door, a PVC pipe with no flag attached was thrown through the open door, striking at least one officer. Ayala appeared to depart the area immediately outside the door at about 2:45 p.m.
Body−worn camera footage from approximately 2:51 p.m. shows that Ayala paced in front of officers who had assembled on the Upper West Terrace to clear rioters from the area, according to the news release. Ayala walked the length of the police line, gestured at the officers and said, “Join us!”
More than 1,200 people have been charged with Capitol riot−related federal crimes. Approximately 900 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a jury or judge. Over 750 of them have been sentenced, with nearly 500 receiving some term of imprisonment, according to data compiled by The Associated Press.
Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman contributed to this report from Silver Spring, Maryland.
Brian Witte, The Associated Press