Angry Former Supporters of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Question Founder Chris Simcox’s Accounting

Angry former supporters of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps are questioning group founder Chris Simcox's accounting

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The Little Prince is under siege.

Chris Simcox, founder and president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), is accustomed to defending himself against the constant barrage of criticism from human rights activists on his political left flank. But now he's under attack from the right as well, as prominent anti-immigration leaders across the country have blasted Simcox in recent weeks with accusations that he's a charlatan, a sellout, and a traitor to their cause.

"Simcox doesn't seem to know that his days on the Minuteman gravy train are ended," says California Coalition for Immigration Reform hate group leader Barbara Coe.

Other former allies lining up against Simcox include Jim Gilchrist, who co-founded the original Minuteman Project with Simcox last year; American Border Patrol hate group head Glenn Spencer; anti-Semite and former Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) field team chief Joe McCutchen; Americans for Mass Deportation founder Liz DeMarco; and Save Our State hate group leader Joe Turner.

The pivot point on which Simcox's own kind turned against him is his refusal to account for the $1.6 to $1.8 million in private donations he estimates MCDC raised, including $600,000 for the "Minuteman Border Fence," -- a slick fundraising campaign with a stated goal of $55 million. Simcox pledged the money raised by the campaign would go to build a high-tech security barrier along 70 miles of private ranchland on the Arizona border. Mass-mailed MCDC solicitations and full-page color advertisements in The Washington Times since mid-April promoted the Minuteman Border Fence as an "Israeli-style" barrier "based on the fences used in Gaza and the West Bank." Fundraising illustrations depict a 6-foot trench and coils of concertina wire backed by a 15-foot steel-mesh fence crowned with bulletproof security cameras. Estimated cost: $150 per foot.

Construction began Memorial Day weekend with much fanfare. Since then, MCDC volunteers erected just over two miles of five-strand barbed wire attached to short metal posts. What they built is a standard cattle fence, costing about $1.50 per foot, or about one one-hundredth the cost of the advertised "Israeli-style" barrier.

So far, in other words, the Minuteman Border Fence hasn't come to much. "It wouldn't stop a tricycle," American Border Patrol's Glenn Spencer posted in a recent online tirade. "It's shameful that [Simcox] would deceive the American people in this way."

Simcox did not respond to three E-mails and two voicemail messages seeking comment for this story. But in an open statement to the media he released in late July, he denied deceiving MCDC donors.

"The next section [of the fence] built will be the full Israeli-style fence, with construction commencing soon," he promised. "Our precise timetable will depend upon resolving a few lingering engineering issues. It will NOT depend upon the ill-informed hostility of those seeking our failure, or wishing to stir up controversy and increase donations to their foundering organizations."

At press time, the MCDC had yet to begin constructing the "Israeli-style" fence. Also, Simcox has denied all requests by current and former MCDC members and donors as well as journalists to release any MCDC financial records. He will not say where the money is, how much has been spent, or for what, and he lashes out at anyone inside or outside his organization who dares question his honesty or authority. Gary Cole, the MCDC's former national director of operations, said he was fired last summer for "asking too many questions about the money."