Former local FreedomWorks organizer arrested for role in January 6 riot

Still images from surveillance video show Prenzlin walking past a metal detector inside the upper chamber door and moving with other protesters as police passed.

The FBI investigation into Prenzlin appears to have started on July 11 with advice from an anonymous confidential source who identified the conservative activist in a publicly available video, according to Burns.

The FBI then delved into social media posts from Prenzlin and other FreedomWorks staff, producing images that appeared to match the individual seen in the January 6 videos. »Worn by the suspect in the videos.

Prenzlin wore similar shoes in a photo from a June Twitter post by a FreedomWorks colleague, the FBI noted.

Officers then took the somewhat unusual step of conducting “physical surveillance” of Prenzlin as he arrived on a flight to Reagan National Airport on July 20. The FBI affidavit includes a photo of Prenzlin pulling wheeled luggage while wearing similar blue shoes, a red FreedomWorks golf shirt, and a mask that had slipped under his nose.

Additionally, federal investigators may have had an eye on Prenzlin before his flight landed. “On July 26, 2021, a federal law enforcement officer on the July 20, 2021 Prenzlin flight received photographs of Prenzlin inside and just outside the Capitol,” Burns wrote. “The officer said the person in these photos looked ‘exactly like’ the person known to be Prenzlin based on the airline’s manifesto information, including the seat number.”

Burns’ affidavit says at one point that the FBI watched Prenzlin get off a flight on June 20, but that date may be wrong.

FreedomWorks has highlighted a slew of allegations of electoral fraud before and after last November’s vote, stoking the same anger that has led many on Capitol Hill to – mistakenly – insist that former President Donald Trump had been re-elected.

However, after the January 6 riot, the advocacy group issued a statement saying the violence had undermined “the very foundations of what our founding fathers built.”

FreedomWorks spokesman Peter Vicenzi said Thursday that Prenzlin had not been employed by the group since Monday. His photo and biography, which describes him as a local leader of the group, was recently removed from the FreedomWorks website.

Vicenzi declined to answer questions about when the group learned of Prenzlin’s alleged presence on Capitol Hill on January 6 or if other FreedomWorks staff were involved in the investigation. However, the spokesperson said the group was not involved in the takeover of the Capitol on January 6.

“FreedomWorks was in no way involved in the event. Prenzlin entered the Capitol alone, ”Vicenzi said.

Court records show Prenzlin was arrested in Arlington, Virginia on Friday. Prenzlin appears to have spent the weekend in police custody before appearing by video Monday afternoon before examining magistrate Zia Faruqui. Prosecutors did not request Prenzlin’s detention and he was released on personal bail.

FreedomWorks, formed in 2004 by a merger of other conservative / libertarian groups, was closely associated with its founding representative Dick Armey (R-Texas) and was funded by businessmen Charles and David Koch. Armey left the group in an acrimonious split in 2012.

At the start of the Obama administration, FreedomWorks was allied with the nascent Tea Party movement. In recent years, he has encouraged protests against the coronavirus lockdown measures.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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