A Florida woman with ties to influential GOP politicians from the state was arrested last week and charged for storming the United States Capitol on Jan. 6.
Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, 23, was arrested and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. She also faces a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, according to a press release from the Justice Department.
Just four minutes after rioters first broke into the building, Capitol Police CCTV captured Balmaseda entering the Capitol through a Senate wing door, the Justice Department said.
“After entering the Capitol, Balmaseda made her way toward the Crypt and pushed her way to the front of a crowd of rioters who were confronting a police line. The mob eventually overran the police line and proceeded into the Crypt,” the Justice Department said.
Balmaseda eventually made her way to the Capitol Rotunda “where she took photographs and exited the area at approximately 2:53 p.m,” the DOJ said. “Balmaseda returned to the Rotunda and stood nearby as a group of rioters attempted to push through an officer line.”
She remained in the Rotunda until approximately 3:11 p.m., when law enforcement officers received additional support and were able to move her and other rioters out of the building.
According to court documents Balmaseda created a Telegram group after the November 2020 presidential election which she initially named ‘Barby’s Security’ but later renamed to ‘Barby’s Security Detail.’ The group had about ten members including Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia and some other members of the Miami chapter of the far-right group.
They exchanged around 900 messages between November 2020 and January 2021. The messages included debunked claims of a stolen election and discussions about the certification process on Jan. 6.
In one message on December 28, Balmaseda wrote: “Gaetz said he plans to challenge electoral college votes when they are counted during a Joint Session of Congress on Jan.6. So on January 6 I’m joining with the fighters in Congress and we are going to object to electors from states that didn’t run clean elections.”
On the day of the riot, Balmaseda was pictured at the Black Lives Matter plaza wearing a black leather jacket with a shearling collar and a red “KEEP AMERICA GREAT” hat with Garcia, who has since been found guilty of two felony charges for his actions on Jan. 6.
According to The Miami New Times, Balmaseda is linked to some top Florida Republicans. Between 2018 and 2019 she interned for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and worked as an organizer on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign. She was also listed as director at-large of Miami Young Republicans and was as regional director for Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends.
In the months after the riot Balmaseda was dubbed #PinkGaiterPBG by online sleuths.