Second Minuteman Group in Bitter Split

Anti-Immigration Groups

For the second time this year, a major American nativist group has splintered amidst a welter of accusations of financial improprieties and mismanagement.

Dissatisfied rumblings from officials in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) turned to a roar this May, when MCDC President Chris Simcox responded to questions about his financial accountability and "micromanagement" of MCDC with a purge. Calling their request for a May 19 meeting an attempted "palace coup," Simcox, well known for his authoritarian leadership style, peremptorily fired three national officers, one regional leader, and 14 of MCDC's 27 state leaders.

The ousted leaders responded with a public no-confidence letter to Simcox and by forming their own civilian border patrol group, the Patriots' Border Alliance. Former MCDC official Bob Wright, chairman of the new group, then wrote an open letter to Simcox accusing him of "calling names like some wet pants mamma's boy on a kindergarten playground" rather than dealing with the allegations.

The MCDC rift closely paralleled the crack-up of the Minuteman Project, a nativist group led by Jim Gilchrist until February, when he was fired by that group's board of directors amid allegations of gross mismanagement, embezzlement and fraud. (Gilchrist has denied any financial wrongdoing.) After first suing the board, Gilchrist changed course in April, dropping the lawsuit and incorporating a new eponymous competing group, Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project.

Ironically, Gilchrist and Simcox were once friends and partners on the original Minuteman Project, which took off in April 2005 during a civilian border patrol operation in Arizona. In the wake of that effort, the two men, both endowed with outsize egos, split amid mutual recriminations. Taking many members with him, Simcox created MCDC. Gilchrist retained control of the older group.

The angry feuding over MCDC's finances heated up further in June, when a Washington Times story reported that MCDC's Political Action Committee had spent fully 97% of some $300,000 raised from donors on "operating expenses." The PAC was formed to help fund campaigns of nativist political candidates.

The fired MCDC leaders now involved in Patriots' Border Alliance aren't the only ones questioning Simcox's finances. Glenn Spencer, head of the nativist hate group American Border Patrol, is deriding as a scam Simcox's public plea for $55 million in donations to build an Israeli military-style fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. "Collecting money to build it while knowing full well you are not going to be able to, well, that's deception," Spencer told the Bisbee [Arizona] Daily Review in July. Simcox retorted that Spencer was merely jealous of his success.

One donor, however, did not view it that way. Jim Campbell, who contributed materials and $100,000 in cash for the fence, sued Simcox in May. Campbell said that despite assuring him the money would be spent on the fence, Simcox used it for other things. Campbell is seeking his money back, plus $1,220,845 in damages.