Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Minuteman Scam

Chris Simcox (the cleaned-up version)

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

One of the few pleasures to be derived from watching the antics of the American right is that more often than not, the whole scene devolves into something like a Punch-and-Judy show on acid (bad acid, admittedly), which if nothing else has its moments of amusement. If they’re not turning up dead from self-asphyxiation dressed in wet suits, they’re busy ripping people off — most particularly each other. At which point much more head-clubbing ensues.

Take, for instance, that erstwhile Neighborhood Watch on Androgenic Steroids, the Minutemen. It seems that even though the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, whose finances have come under close scrutiny, reported income to the IRS that finally jibed with what they reportedly spent, there’s something not quite right about their accounting:
But Stacey O’Connell, former MCDC Arizona state chapter director who is now a member of the Patriot’s Border Alliance, a separate Minuteman-style organization, said the money listed in the new 990 filing does not match claims by Mr. Simcox on how much MCDC has actually collected.

Mr. O’Connell said that in past interviews, Mr. Simcox said the organization had collected $600,000 in donations in its first year, along with $1.6 million for a border fence MCDC is building. He said he also is aware of a single $100,000 donation given by an Arizona man. He later filed a fraud lawsuit against MCDC that has since been withdrawn because of a lack of funds to pursue it.

"After reviewing the Minuteman Foundation 990 from 2006, it appears well below the donation amounts Simcox has claimed in the past," Mr. O’Connell said. "Many of us, perhaps thousands of volunteers and supporters, have donated not only to MCDC but to the fence project as well.

"Many of us also feel that the lack of cooperation in showing where the money goes, how it is spent; that there is something very wrong within the organization," he said.
MCDC, on its Web page, said donations have been "used wisely and effectively, and have focused the nation on illegal immigration," saying it "cannot … accept responsibility for conspiratorial, disruptive and inappropriate speculations about MCDC organizational process and finances, nor will we waste precious time or resources upon those who refuse to accept the IRS nonprofit organization financial accountability standards."
The reality of the Minutemen — that they really are just another right-wing moneymaking scam, one that mostly takes money out of the pockets of ordinary citizens — became clear shortly after they split into two organizations in late 2005 — mainly because the two paranoiac egos that had founded the organization, Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox, wound up scarcely able to be in the same room together.

Simcox went off and formed the MCDC, part of an elaborate PR makeover for Simcox. It was built essentially around drafting as many recruits from non-border states into their border-militia concept — which they could fulfill just by donating. Then Simcox has turned around and hawked the resulting mailing lists to right-wing political-mailing outfits. At the same time, he’s embarked on other scams as well, most notably the supposed construction of the border fence that never got built.

Meanwhile, Jim Gilchrist has not fared any better. His Minuteman Project organization has similarly devolved into a predictable right-wing mudpit, with lawsuits and paranoiac accusations flying hither and yon.

It would be a lot more amusing if they could find a way from making demonizing Latinos and other immigrants the reason for their existence.

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