FBI: Wash. Governor May Have Been Target

AP Wire Service

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Federal agents say the one-time leader of an anti-government group, arrested for alleged firearms violations, may have been plotting to assassinate Gov. Gary Locke.

The FBI (news – web sites) was tipped about an alleged plot nearly two years ago, according to court papers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hartingh on Friday refused to release further details or say whether officials believed there was a credible threat.

James D. Brailey Jr., 43, was charged with federal weapons violations Thursday, a day after authorities converged on a home near Olympia and arrested him after learning he had acquired a weapon, according to the complaint filed against him. Because Brailey has a past domestic violence conviction, he is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

Brailey has not been charged in the alleged plot to kill the governor.

The investigation began in March 2001 when an informant told authorities Brailey planned to kill Locke, according to court papers.

The informant said Brailey was a member of the Jural Society, a loosely organized group whose members do not believe in or support state or federal government. The society holds its own elections for state office, and in 1998 elected Brailey governor of Washington, according to the complaint.

“Brailey hates Governor Locke because he believes he (Brailey) is the only true governor of this state,” FBI agent James Keesling wrote in the complaint. “Brailey also hates Governor Locke because of his ethnicity.”

Locke is Chinese-American.

At one point, Brailey carried firearms into the Capitol for a “dry run” of Locke’s assassination, the informant told the FBI.

Brailey was voted out as the Jural Society’s governor in July 2001 because he had violent tendencies, according to the complaint.

Neither Brailey nor the Jural Society could be immediately reached for comment Saturday.

Elijah Gwinn, Brailey’s uncle, said in Saturday’s editions of The Olympian newspaper that he doubts the informant’s claims and believes Brailey has been unfairly targeted by the FBI. Gwinn, a former Jural Society member, said Brailey was once a national guardsman.

Locke’s staff declined to comment.