A former Cheyenne City Council candidate affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front is suing a Seattle man accused of infiltrating the group and disclosing its members’ identities online.
James Johnson, 41, is one of five people affiliated with Patriot Front that are suing David Capito, 37, for allegedly causing them to lose their jobs and face harassment by being identified as members of the white nationalist group. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for Western Washington late last month.
Johnson, a former Wyoming Department of Audit employee and a 2020 candidate for Cheyenne City Council who now lives in Washington state, was arrested as part of a Patriot Front effort in 2022 for conspiring to riot at a gay pride event in Idaho.
Capito is accused of using a fake name to gain membership into Patriot Front, taking photos at their meetings, recording members’ license plates and using hidden microphones to record conversations, according to court documents.
Around November 2021, Capito allegedly used his administrative access with Patriot Front computer servers to work with “hackers” to access Patriot Front online chats, publishing information on group members’ private information online shortly after.
“At a deeper level, this complaint seeks to vindicate the rule of law and basic principles of free expression for persons who espouse unpopular opinions,” the lawsuit says.
Some of the retaliation plaintiffs say they faced included being fired from their jobs, threatened, having flyers posted in their neighborhoods and having their tires slashed by Capito.
Before Capito revealed his identity, Johnson had been working in Washington as a union HVAC technician, earning about $80,000 a year plus benefits. Johnson claims he lost around a third of his income and benefits as a result of Capito’s actions, which disrupted his relationship with the union. His wife also was fired from a $60,000-a-year job, the lawsuit alleges.
The Seattle Times reports that some of the information released about Johnson online included photos from inside his apartment where what appears to be a 3D-printed gun is visible.
Johnson says hundreds of hostile flyers were posted around his house, creating a “hostile environment for the Johnsons in their neighborhood,” which led them to move.
The plaintiffs describe Capito’s actions as “highly offensive” with someone who held “unusual or unpopular opinions.” They are seeking an undetermined amount of monetary damages from Capito and a court order preventing him from using Patriot Front members’ personal information.
The Patriot Front lawsuit describes the group’s objective as: “Reforge … our people, born to this nation of our European race … as a new collective capable of asserting our right to cultural independence.”
It describes the group’s actions as “provocative” but “nonviolent” and says the mainstream media and general public has misinterpreted and distorted their mission.
Johnson, who worked as a senior auditor for the Wyoming Department of Audit as of late 2020, was charged in June 2022 with conspiracy to riot along with 30 other members of Patriot Front for their involvement in the Idaho Pride event. He has since moved to Washington.
When they were arrested, the men were wearing what was described as riot gear and a smoke grenade and riot shields were found in their vehicle.
Among the 31 arrested at the Idaho event was also Dylan Carter Corio, 21, who, according to the police report at the time, lived in Cheyenne. Corio is not a part of the lawsuit.
In July, a jury found Johnson and four other members of the group guilty on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy. The men were sentenced to five days in jail with credit for two days served and fined $1,000.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.