At the end of May when perennial electoral failure Alan Keyes went to Palominas, AZ to join Minuteman Civil Defense Corps founder Chris Simcox at the groundbreaking ceremony for Minutemen's newest border fence project, everything looked promising in the world of border vigilantes. The immigrant marches and raging congressional debate only brought increased media coverage of the immigration issue that gave the Minutemen not only increased publicity, but a huge influx of cash from their base of disgruntled xenophobes. Now it appears that much of the money raised for fence building, binoculars, and beverages never reached the average minuteman on the street.
Apparently much of the $1.6 mil raised over the past fifteen months by Simcox is unaccounted for. Now leaders of the vigilante group want to know where the money is, and why it was funneled through Alan Keyes' Virginia based charity organization, Declaration Alliance.
Over the Memorial Day weekend about three hundred border vigilantes gathered in the hot Arizona desert to listen to rousing speeches and begin their "work" securing the borders. Joining them was a who's who of the anti-immigration movement including Rep. Steve King of Iowa, sponsor of the effort to scrap the renewal of the Voting Rights Act due its bilingual provisions, and Arizona governor candidate Don Goldwater who recently called for using incarcerated immigrants as workers to build border walls. One address they heard was that of failed presidential candidate and conservative commentator, Alan Keyes. Keyes spoke before the cheering crowd and thanked them for doing Gods work in saving America.
"And right now as America faces what I think is the greatest crisis of our institution in its history ... When a country loses the will to defend its borders, when a country loses the will to assert its identity, when a country loses the will to stand in defense of its way of life, that country is doomed....Now, I'm here to tell you right now that however we may sometimes feel discouraged, that however we may sometimes think that there is no hope, you need to remember that when we pray to God for a blessing, you have come forward to be the answer. You have come forward to be the defenders."
Now it appears that Keyes and Simcox may have had more on their minds than defending America against the "invading horde" from south of the border as they riled the faithful that weekend. Members of the vigilante group have raised serious question about where all the money raised since the groups founding in April of 2005 has gone.
The members say money promised for supplies like food, fuel, radios, night-vision scopes and binoculars never reached volunteers staffing observation posts to spot and report illegal border crossers.
“This movement is much too important to be lost over a question of finances,” Gary Cole, the Minutemen’s former national director of operations, told The Washington Times. “We can’t demand that the government be held accountable for failing to control the border if we can’t hold ourselves accountable for the people’s money.”
The organization has not released any financial statements or fund-raising records since it was created. Several of the group’s top lieutenants have either quit or threatened to do so, saying requests to the group’s president, Chris Simcox, for financial accountability have been ignored, The Times reported.
Mr. Cole said he personally collected “tens of thousands of dollars” in donations during the Minutemen’s 30-day April 2005 border vigil in Arizona. But he said that despite numerous requests, he was never told where the money went.
Mr. Cole said Mr. Simcox removed him as a national director of the border campaign “for asking too many questions about the money.”
Mike Gaddy, a retired Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada and Beirut who helped organize the Minuteman's April 2005 border watch as a field coordinator, said he and other volunteers challenged Mr. Simcox on numerous occasions to come up with a financial accounting and are suspicious of the need for hiring outside consultants.
"When we heard he was hooking up with outside consultants, I pleaded with Simcox that he had to keep this thing squeaky clean because the Minuteman movement was essential to this nation's sovereignty," Mr. Gaddy said.
He said Mr. Simcox rejected his offer last year to personally pay for an audit to answer growing concern among the ranks about the group's finances. "He told me what he did was his business."
"Something is seriously wrong," he said. "I saw firsthand the dedication of the men and women who volunteered to stand these border watches, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, and proudly came to the conclusion that this is what America was all about. But a number of people I thought I could trust have since disappointed me."
Mr. Gaddy said he did not know how much money the organization had collected, but said, "It would be a substantial sum."
Both Keyes and Simcox deny any financial wrongdoing.
Keyes claims his organization handles the MCDC's finances through his organization because he "wished to do all in (his) power to assist the Minutemen's growth into a national civic movement as quickly as possible -- as the public exposure of the lawless state of our southern border is a matter of utmost urgency," he adding that his "organizational team has an established history of effective issues advocacy, grass-roots activism, political campaigning, financial accountability, regulatory compliance and fundraising." Additionally Keyes claims that the MCDC is still in the process of applying for IRS nonprofit status so it was advantageous to funnel the funds though his established organization.
As for his part, Simcox stated that he receives no salary from MCDC despite the fact that "hours of toil and sacrifice necessary to run this national organization" had taken a toll on his personal life and finances. Simcox claimed that he was forced to sell his newspaper, the Tombstone Tumbleweed due to the financial pressure.
"My present source of income has been the honorariums and fees received from organizations who request me for speaking engagements," Simcox said. "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." He added that any other information about his finances was no one's business.
Despite their denials of any wrongdoing, many questions remain unanswered.
Earlier this year, Vern Kilburn resigned as director of operations for the Minuteman's northern Texas sector because of what he called "professional differences with the management and business practices" of the MCDC national headquarters.
In a letter of resignation, he said Mr. Simcox and other Minuteman leaders offered "no acceptable answers" to concerns that he had about the management, accountability, ownership and the distribution of money for the Texas operation, adding that they were unable to verify Texas' share of the Minuteman donations.
Mr. Kilburn said that only two checks for $1,000 came from MCDC headquarters in October for the Texas operation and that other Minuteman leaders across the country "are having similar problems concerning money or the lack of."
Although he resigned as director of operations, he said he sought to remain with MCDC to continuing his work with "like-minded patriots" but was fired by Mr. Simcox. He declined to expand on his letter, saying only he "pretty much had my fill of the Minuteman as far as Chris Simcox goes."
Mr. Gaddy, Mr. Cole and Mr. Kilburn are among only a few Minuteman leaders and volunteers who have come forward publicly over questions about accountability. The vast majority declined to be identified for fear of hurting the movement.
"I have no interest in going on the record in this matter," said one top MCDC leader who heads one of the organization's most active groups. "I have a lot of the same questions and have never received answers that are satisfactory. I have been contemplating resigning for a number of reasons, and lack of public accountability is one of those reasons."
It appears that many leaders of the vigilante group have been asleep at the wheel while Simcox and Keyes have had free reign over the MCDC's finances. It is yet to be seen how the financial problems of the fledgling group of border ruffians will effect their ability to further their agenda of intimidation and fear, but I'm sure those who care about true immigration reform will not be shedding any tears over the minutemen's current dilemma.
from: Migra Matters - Progressive Immigration Reform