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 midst of all this online bloodletting, MCDC's relentless fundraising has continued. In a letter dated July 28 and mailed to tens of thousands of past MCDC donors nationwide, Simcox began: "Dear friends, I'm writing you today from the hot, dusty Arizona border. As you know, we launched construction of the 'Minuteman Border Fence' over Memorial Day weekend. And let me tell you, the 'Pro-Illegal Immigration' crowd was not happy about it."
The letter continued, "We are going to stay here and continue building this fence until the job is done -- and done right!" Then it struck a somber tone: "With the blazing summer upon us, the stamina of our valiant Minutemen is taxed to the uttermost limit. So if you're proud as I am of the civilian patriots building our 'Minuteman Border Fence,' won't you please consider sending a $20 gift today? And if you can send a larger contribution, we'll be able to cover even more border miles."
Unlike previous Minuteman Border Fence solicitations, it made no mention of any "Israeli-style" design, leaving its recipients to imagine for themselves the actual nature of the fence "our valiant Minutemen" are toiling to build, mile by excruciating mile. This omission of design specifics may have been the product of advice Simcox received from Diener Consultants, one of the country's largest right-wing political consulting and fundraising machines. At around the same time Simcox broke off from Gilchrist to form MCDC, he contracted with Diener, which is based in Chicago and led by Phillip Sheldon, son of Traditional Values Coalition founder and vitriolic gay-basher Rev. Louis Sheldon.
The younger Sheldon is known for brokering the ghoulish deal in which Response Unlimited, a direct-mail marketing firm, obtained a list of donors to Terry Schiavo's legal fund from the brain-dead woman's parents several days before her death in March 2005. Earlier this year, Response Unlimited -- "the nation's best and most comprehensive source of mailing lists for conservative and Christian mailers and telemarketers" -- began offering for sale a list of 61,000 Minuteman Civil Defense Corps donors at a price of $120 per thousand names.
"These donors realize that a porous border potentially means unfettered access for illegal drugs and terrorists to infiltrate our country," Response Unlimited says in its pitch. "Count is expected to increase rapidly over the coming months."
Simcox has refused to reveal how much Response Unlimited is paying MCDC for its donor rolls or how much MCDC is paying Diener Consultants to keep trying to enlarge that donor list. But Simcox answered one pressing question -- that of how much he's taken for himself from MCDC coffers.
So far, he said in July, not one dime.
"I am not salaried by MCDC," he said. "In light of these malicious attacks, I will, this one last time, reveal personal information to answer the critics. ... My present source of income has been the honorariums and fees received from organizations who request me for speaking engagements. I have also received money from selling my life story for a movie that will soon go into production. Even with those combined sources of income, I have made just enough to keep my head above water. The remainder of my living expenses is covered by my devoted and dedicated wife, who shares my passion for the MCDC mission."
Simcox then stated, "I do foresee a need come the new year for me to request a modest salary to maintain my role as president of MCDC. If the board and national directors do not agree then it will be necessary for me to leave the organization and return to teaching [Simcox used to be a private school teacher]. Or I may need to go get a job at Wal-Mart or Home Depot!"
Where Simcox will stand next year in the movement that made him famous -- if not rich, as he claims -- seems most uncertain. For now, he continues to act as if he is looking down from on high, occasionally deigning to respond to critics amidst the rabble. But if construction doesn't begin on that "Israeli-style" barrier pronto, or if MCDC's numbers don't add up in a public accounting before the Nov. 15 deadline, the Little Prince's castle may crumble.
Susy Buchanan and Janet Smith contributed to this report.