The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

He’s charged with assaulting police at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Now he’s running for office in Texas.

Mark Middleton, circled, is seen during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Middleton, who has pleaded not guilty to several charges stemming from Jan. 6, is running for the Texas House. (Justice Department)
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As police struggled to fight off rioters trying to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Mark Middleton said he was among “the first group to storm the Capitol.” He joined the pro-Trump mob in allegedly yelling expletives and striking officers who stood between them and their goal of disrupting the validation of the 2020 presidential election results, according to the FBI.

“No more fooling around!” he said in a video posted to his Facebook page shortly after he and his wife, Jalise, were at the Capitol, prosecutors say. “Make America great again! Freedom!”

Even though the couple face multiple federal charges stemming from the deadly Jan. 6 riot, that is not stopping Middleton from running for office as a Republican in his home state of Texas.

Middleton, 52, is running for a seat in the Texas House, months after he and his wife, 51, were indicted on charges of assaulting two D.C. police officers, according to a public filing on the Texas secretary of state’s website. The Texas Republican Party accepted his nomination to challenge state Rep. David Spiller, a GOP incumbent in Jacksboro, Tex., in a March 2022 primary, according to the Dallas Morning News, the first to report the story. Spiller has been in office since March, after winning a special election in February.

The Middletons were arrested in April and charged with several counts, including assault of a law enforcement officer, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and unlawful entry on restricted grounds. The Middletons, from Forestburg, Tex., have both pleaded not guilty and remain free on personal recognizance bonds as they await the start of a trial.

Middleton declined to comment to The Washington Post.

“You are welcome to follow my campaign and meet with me on the trail,” he wrote in an email.

James Wesolek, a spokesman with the Texas Republican Party, confirmed Middleton’s candidacy to The Post.

“Under the Texas Election Code, the party must accept all applications that are correct in form and content,” he wrote in an email Tuesday.

Sam Taylor, a spokesman with the Texas secretary of state’s office, told The Post that state election code notes how a candidate must “have not been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities.”

“An indictment is not the same as a final conviction,” Taylor said. “Middleton is still awaiting trial, and therefore has not been finally convicted of a felony.”

The alleged rioter’s candidacy comes at a time when at least 13 Republicans who traveled to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the results of the 2020 election ran for office this year. None of them were charged with crimes, and they all denied being part of the mob supporting President Donald Trump that stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of President Biden’s victory. The attack resulted in five deaths and left about 140 members of law enforcement injured.

At least seven people who attended the pro-Trump rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol were elected to public office this month, winning in states such as Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Idaho.

At least seven Jan. 6 rallygoers won public office on Election Day

At 2:09 p.m. on Jan. 6, Middleton, a volunteer firefighter and pilot who wore a red, white and blue Trump beanie, pushed against the barricade and police line with his body, according to body-cam footage obtained by the FBI.

“Get back!” one of the officers said, according to a statement of facts.

In response, Middleton is heard on video yelling an expletive at the officers as he continued to push against the barricade, prosecutors say. He struggled against the officers “for more than 30 seconds” before grabbing an officer’s left hand or wrist and pulling him forward, according to the complaint.

At the same time, a woman identified as Jalise Middleton, also wearing a red, white and blue Trump beanie, “repeatedly grabs and strikes” the same officer with her hand, prosecutors say. When another officer attempted to defend their colleague from the assault, Mark Middleton struck that officer in the arm as well, the complaint says.

After the couple continued to grapple with the two officers, police deployed chemical spray that forced the Middletons “to retreat back from the barricade line,” investigators say.

Minutes later, the pro-Trump mob eventually breached the Capitol, breaking windows and climbing inside the building, then opening doors for others to follow.

How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled inside and outside the Capitol

When he was still in proximity of the Capitol, Middleton bragged in a video posted to social media about being “on the front lines” of the riot, according to the complaint.

“We helped push down the barriers,” he said in a Facebook video, prosecutors say. “Jalise and I got pepper sprayed, clubbed, and tear gassed. We had to retreat, but more patriots pushed forward, and they’re taking back our house.”

He went on to post numerous videos, photos and comments to Facebook regarding the riot and the couple’s involvement in it, records show. The Middletons said in Facebook posts that they did not enter the Capitol, even as Jalise Middleton wrote that “we made history and got everyone in,” the complaint states.

On Jan. 21, a tipster whose daughter is an acquaintance of Jalise Middleton alerted the FBI of the social media posts, which were deleted earlier in the month, according to the Justice Department. A second tipster told the FBI in February of the Middletons’ alleged involvement at the riot, helping investigators confirm that the couple had a physical altercation with police, prosecutors say. Investigators found probable cause after comparing the body-cam footage to the recovered social media posts.

The couple were arrested on April 21 and indicted on May 19 by a federal grand jury in Washington. They were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to all counts on May 27. A trial has yet to be set for them.

Mark Middleton, who lists himself as a Cub Master for the Boy Scouts of America on his LinkedIn profile, last worked in sales for Nortex Communications, an Internet services company, in April — the month he was arrested. He is currently the only primary challenger to Spiller in Texas House District 68, which stretches from the Oklahoma border to counties near Texas Hill Country because of redistricting.

On his campaign website, Middleton’s far-right platform calls for Texas to consider leaving the United States.

“To the extent the Union can be saved we should work to that end,” his campaign website says. “However, it is past time Texans start seriously exploring our exit from the Union.”

Amy B Wang and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.

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