Key Nativist Leader Quits Group to Run for Senate

Chris Simcox, a leading figure in the nativist extremist movement, has resigned as leader of the vigilante group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) to run for U.S. Senate.

The 48-year-old Simcox, who once insisted that his future plans did not involve a bid for public office, announced his departure from MCDC in a newsletter sent to supporters late last month. “I now leave the MCDC, technically speaking,” he wrote. “I have resigned from the board of directors; I am no longer a partner in the non-profit corporation; I am no longer president or official spokesperson for MCDC.

“I am, however, a strong and vocal advocate for your efforts and will always continue to bring attention to the valiant and honorable efforts of all MCDC patriot volunteers across the country.”

Simcox founded MCDC, which conducts armed patrols of the border, in April 2005. As president of that organization, the former kindergarten teacher became a prominent spokesman for anti-immigration activists, appearing on major TV networks and testifying before Congress. For the past three years, however, Simcox has been widely denounced by former followers within the movement for alleged financial mismanagement, including failing to account for $600,000 the MCDC reportedly raised in 2006 for an “Israeli-style” border fence that has yet to be built. Simcox declined to comment for this story.

Despite criticism from the right and waning concern about immigration among the general population, Simcox managed to more than double the number of MCDC chapters, from 34 in early 2007 to 78 in December 2008. He also succeeded in bringing in some big money: Minuteman PAC, the political action arm of MCDC, raised more than $1.7 million during the 2007-08 election cycle, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

In his message to supporters, Simcox said Carmen Mercer, a German immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen who has been involved with MCDC since its inception, would succeed him as the group’s president and CEO. Current MCDC board members Mercer and John Acer were looking for someone to replace Simcox on the three-member board.

Meanwhile, Simcox’s critics were describing his tenure with MCDC in less-than-glowing terms. “Simcox is a con man and a pathological liar,” wrote Glenn Spencer of the hate group American Border Patrol on his website late last month. “He and his partners-in-crime have fleeced the American People out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a border fence that could never have been built.”