Brad Rukstales is an Illinois businessman who served as the CEO of data analytics company Cogensia and was among those arrested in Washington, D.C., for his role in storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The riot prompted evacuations and at least five people, including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died amid the melee, Forbes reported.
Rukstales has admitted that he entered the Capitol building and has issued an apology for his “poor judgment.” But he also insisted in an interview with CBS Chicago that he was not violent. “I had nothing to do with charging anybody,” Rukstales said. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I regret my part in that.”
According to the Justice Department, Rukstales faces at least two federal charges.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Brad Rukstales Said He ‘Followed Hundreds of Others’ Into the Capitol Building to ‘See What Was Taking Place’ & Called it the ‘Worst Personal Decision’ of His Life
Rukstales traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the rally President Donald Trump had promoted for weeks. As the New York Times reported, Trump had encouraged his supporters to protest on January 6 as lawmakers gathered to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump repeatedly made unfounded claims that the election had been stolen from him in the weeks leading up to it, and on December 19, he tweeted to supporters that the “big protest in D.C. on January 6th” would “be wild.”
Since his arrest, Rukstales has deleted or scrubbed his social media accounts. But he suggested to CBS Chicago that he hadn’t anticipated violence. “It was great to see a whole bunch of people together in the morning and hear the speeches, but it turned into chaos,” he said.
As of this writing, Rukstales’ Twitter account had only one tweet, and it was to apologize for his role at the Capitol riot. Ruckstales downplayed his participation and claimed he had simply followed others into the building because he was curious to “see what was taking place.” Here is the full statement:
In a moment of extremely poor judgment following the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, I followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside. I was arrested for the first time in my life and charged with unlawful entry.
My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so. Without qualification and as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen, I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington.
I offer my sincere apologies for my indiscretion, and I deeply regret that my actions have brought embarrassment to my family, colleagues, friends and fellow countrymen.
It was the single worst personal decision of my life; I have no excuse for my actions and wish that I could take them back.
2. Rukstales Ignored Orders to Leave the Capitol & Faces 2 Federal Charges, Prosecutors Say
Rukstales initially noted in his apology statement that he was arrested for unlawful entry after walking into the Capitol building during the January 6 riot. According to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Rukstales has been charged, along with several other individuals, on the following charges:
- Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; or Knowingly, With Intent to Impede Government Business or Official Functions, Engaging in Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds
- Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds
According to the statement of facts published on the Justice Department’s website, Rukstales was one of six individuals observed standing on the “Upper Level of the United States Capitol Visitors Center near the door to the House Atrium” during the riot.
Prosecutors wrote Rukstales and the others were standing near Capitol Police officers and ignored verbal orders to leave the building. Rukstales and five others were handcuffed, arrested and issued citations to appear in court at a later date.
3. Rukstales Was Back Home in a Chicago Suburb Hours After His Arrest
Rukstales was arrested on January 6, WGN-TV reported, but it was not immediately clear where he was detained. His name does not come up in an online search of recent inmate records for Washington, D.C., or Virginia, and he was not listed in the federal inmate system. Rukstales’ case had also not been entered in a database of federal court cases as of this writing.
Rukstales was not detained for long; he was back home in Inverness, a suburb of Chicago, on January 7. CBS Chicago reporter Charlie De Mar briefly spoke with Rukstales outside of his home. Rukstales expressed regret for being at the Capitol riot and insisted he had not acted violently. But when the reporter asked why he had chosen to go inside the Capitol, Rukstales ended the interview.
4. Rukstales Is Now Out of a Job
Rukstales was the president and CEO of tech company Cogensia, but as of January 8, he was out of a job. According to a news release, the company’s board of directors terminated Rukstales “effective immediately” after deciding his actions at the Capitol “were inconsistent with the core values of Cogensia.”
Cogensia had initially distanced itself from Rukstales after his arrest. The firm released a brief statement on social media on January 7:
Our CEO, Brad Rukstales’ participated in the recent Washington DC protests. Those actions were his own and not acting on behalf Cogensia nor do his actions in any way reflect the policies or values of our firm. He has been placed on leave of absence while we assess further.
Rukstales’ bio was removed from Cogensia’s website soon after his arrest. Earlier on January 8, the company had also stripped the website of articles in which Rukstales was quoted and removed images of him.
Before Cogensia took down any reference to Rukstales, the site had included a blog post he wrote on December 23 in which he questioned whether Americans could trust leaders or medical professionals on topics including the coronavirus. Variety republished a portion of the blog post:
Information overload can be a problem! We are told to trust the experts. The professionals and doctors not only have conflicting information, but often change their advice. Mask. No Mask. Mask indoors. Cases are important. No, it’s hospitalizations. What age ranges are contagious? Close schools! Vaccines are coming! They work. They don’t work — it’s a conspiracy. AGHHH. In general, it seems that the more information that is provided, the more difficult it is to consume, interpret, and action. We end up having to trust ourselves on topics that we are not experts on!
5. Rukstales Donated Thousands of Dollars to Trump’s Campaign, FEC Records Show
Rukstales has personally donated nearly $30,000 to support Republican causes since October 2019, according to public records on the Federal Election Commission website. His donations included at least $12,000 to support Trump’s reelection efforts.
FEC records show Rukstales made regular contributions to WinRed, a political action committee established to support conservative candidates. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the PAC has raised nearly $2 billion since 2019.
Rukstales specifically donated to the Republican National Committee, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. He donated $2,250 to Jeanne Ives, who formerly served in the Illinois House of Representatives and lost a bid for a U.S. House seat in the 2020 election. Rukstales also gave $500 to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s reelection campaign.
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