Annapolis, Md. (AP) — Carlos Ayala, 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 related to his participation in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
According to court records, Ayala was arrested on Tuesday in Maryland. He faces a felony charge of civil disorder and related misdemeanor charges. Ayala was released on personal recognizance pending further legal proceedings.
Michael Summers, the chair of the state elections board, announced Ayala's immediate resignation on Thursday.
Ayala, a resident of Salisbury, Maryland, was appointed to the board in 2023 by Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat. Ayala's nomination came after a recommendation from the Maryland Republican Party and confirmation by the Maryland Senate.
The arrest brought attention to Ayala's connection to the prominent Perdue Farms family. In a promotional video posted on Perdue Farms' Facebook page in 2019, Ayala mentioned that his mother, Mitzi, had married Frank Perdue, the former president and CEO of Perdue Farms, in the late 80s. The video has since been removed from social media.
Senate President Bill Ferguson expressed surprise and distress at Ayala's arrest, emphasizing the importance of not making assumptions during challenging times for democracy.
Nicole Beus Harris, the chair of the Maryland Republican Party, issued a statement affirming the principle of innocence until proven guilty. Ayala chose to resign, believing that the 2024 elections process and the State Board of Elections should not be distracted.
Ayala, 52, has held various roles with Perdue Farms, including director of international operations, general manager of Perdue China, and vice president international for all of Perdue. He was introduced at a Maryland Senate hearing in March 2023 as a "well-respected business and community leader."
Court records allege that Ayala was identified among a group of rioters illegally gathered on restricted Capitol grounds near the inauguration scaffolding. He allegedly carried a flagpole with the words "We the People" and "DEFEND," featuring an image of an M-16-style rifle. Ayala was seen climbing over police barricades and approaching the Capitol as rioters overran police lines.
Video footage also shows Ayala waving his flag inside a window near the Senate wing door of the Capitol, where he was later motioned away by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. Ayala then moved toward a door that had been previously breached by rioters.
Ayala's flag, allegedly used in an altercation with a police officer, matched the description of the flag he was holding earlier. Shortly after this altercation, the Senate wing door was breached by rioters, leading to chaos and violence.
Ayala's arrest is part of ongoing investigations into the events of January 6, 2021, which has resulted in charges against more than 1,200 individuals. Over 900 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted, with nearly 500 receiving sentences that include imprisonment.