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
by David Holthouse
In the meantime, the financial records of Minuteman PAC, Inc., a political action committee formed this year and chaired by Simcox, offer some insight into Simcox's spending priorities. A separate entity from MCDC, Minuteman PAC, Inc. is registered with the Federal Elections Commission and is therefore required by federal law to file periodic financial reports, which are open to public inspection. The first of these reports was made public July 13. It shows that Minuteman PAC received $214,015 in donations at that point -- money above and beyond what MCDC raised -- and disbursed $97,076, leaving cash on hand of $116,939.
Although the publicized mission of Minuteman PAC is to raise money to support the campaigns of political candidates who support the Minuteman mission, it made only $5,000 in campaign donations at the time of the FEC filing. The vast majority of Minuteman PAC expenditures -- $87,432 -- went to pay direct-mail fundraising and advertising bills.
Gilchrist and Simcox publicly battled for control and camera time during the original Minuteman Project, when Simcox's high-handed leadership style earned him the sarcastic sobriquet, "The Little Prince." But following the conclusion of the month-long "citizens border patrol" operation in Arizona last April, the co-founders appeared to arrange an amicable parting and division of the public relations spoils. Gilchrist kept the Minuteman Project name and announced he was handing over "border watch" operations to Simcox, who would manage them as president of a new group, Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. As head of the Minuteman Project, Gilchrist said he would focus on pressuring employers not to hire illegal immigrants, what he called "internal vigilance."
It's unclear how the Minuteman Project co-founders divvied up the donations received while the month-long operation was under way -- or if the donations were divvied at all. Mike Gaddy, the former MCDC field coordinator and former president of its New Mexico chapter, told the Intelligence Report that Simcox kept most, if not all, the money for himself.
Gaddy, who worked side-by-side with Simcox during the original Minuteman Project, said the intense national media coverage the operation received drove tens of thousands of dollars in small donations to the offices of the Tombstone Tumbleweed, a newspaper then owned by Simcox. (Former MCDC national coordinator Gary Cole used the same "tens of thousands" estimate in The Washington Times article.) Gaddy said some of the checks were made out to Simcox, some to Gilchrist.
"I asked Chris how the donations were being handled. He stated all of the checks and donations directed to Gilchrist were being separated and given to him. At the time, I believed him," Gaddy said. "Later, I asked some of the people who were working in the Tumbleweed office how the donations were being accounted for. I was told that regardless of who the donations were designated for, they all went into the same account -- the one belonging to Simcox."
Gilchrist vs. Simcox
Gilchrist and Simcox are now headed for a showdown near the streets of Laredo.
Two days after The Washington Times article came out, Gilchrist distributed this statement: "The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps does not represent all the Minutemen throughout the United States nor do they represent the Minuteman Project whose only founder is Jim Gilchrist. The Minuteman Project does not have any business dealings with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, whose President is Chris Simcox."
After distancing himself from Simcox, Gilchrist announced he was getting back in the border-watch game with "Operation Sovereignty," promoted on his Web site as "an observation and reporting vigil along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Laredo, Texas, area that will launch September 11 and continue through federal election day, November 7."
Gilchrist's partners in Operation Sovereignty, according to his Web site, are Glenn Spencer's American Border Patrol and the Texas Minutemen, a rogue Minuteman outfit not affiliated with Simcox. Both groups are fueled by far more radical ideology than Gilchrist has endorsed in the past. The Southern Poverty Law Center has long listed American Border Patrol as an anti-Mexican hate group. And the leaders of the Texas Minutemen in June told a Young Republicans club that ranchers should be allowed to shoot "diseased Mexicans" trying to cross the border under the same international agreement allowing them to shoot diseased cattle. Gilchrist appears to be radicalizing as part of his overall strategy to siphon away support from the MCDC, and establish himself as the one true leader of the Minutemen.
Enraged by Gilchrist's encroachment on this turf, Simcox fired off this Aug. 8 rant in a mass E-mail to MCDC members and donors: "Minuteman Project 'founder' Jim Gilchrist is about to lead his band of volunteers to the slaughter in the Laredo area beginning September 11th. MCDC does not sanction this suicidal plan of Gilchrist's. It is imperative that all MCDC volunteers stay away from this dog and pony show disaster in the making." At the same time, Simcox announced that a new MCDC border watch operation "along the entire southern border" would begin Oct. 1, also with operations near Laredo. "We have new equipment and many new volunteers, but we must stick with MCDC and steer clear of the Gilchrist, Texas Minutemen, Glen Spencer American Border Patrol radicals," he wrote. "We can only pray for them and hope they do not self destruct, get someone killed and ultimately tarnish the Minuteman movement. Even if they do, we shall rise above by sticking with our rational game plan."
Save Our State founder Joe Turner then jumped into the fight on Gilchrist's side. "This [attack on Gilchrist] is by the same individual that has raised potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars (nobody knows and Simcox ain't telling) to build an Israeli-style border fence, when, to date, weeks after his announcement, not one foot of Israeli-style border fencing has been constructed. Barbed wire cattle fencing isn't that expensive, and it doesn't stop illegal aliens," Turner wrote in a statement Save Our State members. "Simcox was a nobody until Gilchrist made him a 'somebody.' And this is how he repays Gilchrist?"
Turner concluded, "God Bless Jim Gilchrist, the Minuteman Project and their joint efforts with the Texas Minutemen and American Border Patrol this fall."