Brad Rukstales, the chief executive of a Chicago-area company that provides data-marketing solutions, said he was arrested Wednesday after he entered the U.S. Capitol alongside a mob of pro-Trump rioters seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
His company, Cogensia, said in a statement that Rukstales has been placed on leave while it considers next steps. The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol left at least five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, and has prompted calls for President Trump to resign, be removed via the 25th Amendment or be impeached and removed from office by Congress.
“Our CEO, Brad Rukstales, participated in the recent Washington DC protests,” the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company said in a statement Thursday. “Those actions were his own and [and he was] not acting on behalf [of] Cogensia nor do his actions in any way reflect the policies or values of our firm. He has been placed on leave of absence while we assess further.”
Rukstales, in his own statement posted on Twitter, apologized for what he called “the single worst personal decision of my life.”
“In a moment of extremely poor judgment following the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, I followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside,” Rukstales wrote. “I was arrested for the first time in my life and charged with unlawful entry.”
He continued, “My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so,” adding that he “condemn[ed] the violence and destruction that took place in Washington.”
Cogensia, founded in 2002, specializes in providing data-driven marketing services to the restaurant and highway toll-collection industries. “We partner with clients to drive lasting customer relationships and incremental brand revenue through integrated systems, online and offline CRM, real-time predictive modeling, and data management,” the company says on its website.
In a Dec. 23, 2020, year-end blog post to Cogensia customers, Rukstales wrote in part that “information overload can be a problem! We are told to trust the experts. The professionals and doctors not only have conflicting information, but often change their advice. Mask. No Mask. Mask indoors. Cases are important. No, it’s hospitalizations. What age ranges are contagious? Close schools! Vaccines are coming! They work. They don’t work — it’s a conspiracy. AGHHH. In general, it seems that the more information that is provided, the more difficult it is to consume, interpret, and action. We end up having to trust ourselves on topics that we are not experts on!”
According to a cached version of Rukstales’ now-deleted bio on the Cogensia website, he claimed to have 28 years of experience in the industry. Under the heading “What I Do For Fun,” Rukstales wrote, “I play keyboards for a 90’s alternative cover band, Jahli Llama.”