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What Led to the Arrest of GOP Affiliate Barbara Balmaseda Over Capitol Riot?

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In a recent development, Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, a 23-year-old with ties to the Florida Republican Party and GOP officials, has been apprehended by federal authorities over allegations of participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The arrest sheds light on her intricate connections within the state’s political landscape.

Balmaseda, who previously interned for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and served as a campaign organizer for Gov. Ron DeSantis, faces five charges — one felony and four misdemeanors — related to the Capitol breach. The charges were revealed in recently unsealed court documents, accusing her of breaching the Crypt inside the Capitol alongside a member of the Proud Boys, who was previously convicted of felonies linked to the 2021 attempt to disrupt Congress.

The FBI complaint against Balmaseda highlights her involvement, stating, “Open source and CCTV footage from the Crypt shows that the mob eventually overran the police line in the Crypt, and Balmaseda moved forward with the crowd.”

Before her arrest, Balmaseda played an active role in the South Florida GOP, notably serving as the director-at-large of the Miami Young Republicans and acting as a committeewoman for the Party. However, she resigned from her leadership position after photos surfaced of her presence at the Capitol during the riot.

Arrested in Miami Lakes on Dec. 14, Balmaseda faces charges such as attempting to obstruct congressional proceedings, knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building, and engaging in disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. Her attorney, Aubrey Webb, criticized the arrest, deeming it a “waste of law enforcement resources” for what he considers “essentially trespassing charges.”

Webb emphasized that Balmaseda is relieved the legal process is progressing but highlighted that she is not charged with violence or property destruction. He further questioned the FBI’s priorities, suggesting they focus on more serious threats, such as the suspect responsible for leaving pipe bombs at the DNC and RNC offices on Capitol Hill on January 5, 2021.

Balmaseda’s connections to the Capitol riot emerged through messages linking her to Gabriel Garcia, a former Proud Boys member and a past member of the Miami-Dade Republican Party Executive Committee. Evidence compiled by investigators revealed that Balmaseda and Garcia were together at the Capitol on January 6.

During the riot, Garcia recorded a video displaying the chaos in the Crypt, admitting, “We just went ahead and stormed the Capitol,” with Balmaseda nearby. A selfie of Balmaseda and Garcia outside the Capitol was presented as evidence. Additionally, two days after the breach, Balmaseda sent a text to Garcia, indicating that she had his sunglasses, and he still had her taser.

Balmaseda’s arrest adds another layer to the ongoing investigation into the events of Jan. 6, revealing the intricacies of her political connections within the Florida GOP. As the legal proceedings unfold, questions linger about the extent of her involvement and the potential repercussions for those linked to her in the political arena.

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