Minuteman spending outstrips donations, fees

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The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, under fire for a lack of financial accountability, spent nearly $450,000 last year for volunteers to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border — about $31,000 more than it collected in donations and registration fees — according to a report released yesterday.

The organization’s first Internal Revenue Service Form 990 filing as a 501(c)4 tax-exempt charitable trust showed nearly $285,000 in MCDC contributions, or roughly 63 percent, were used to pay for program management and operating expenses, such as travel expenditures, salaries, educational materials and office expenses.

Another $145,000, about 32 percent, went for MCDC’s fundraising programs.

According to the report, about $20,000, or 5 percent, was spent on field supplies, meals, fuel and background checks for the claimed 8,500 Minuteman volunteers, who last year staffed observation posts at selected points along the Mexican border from California to Texas in April and October.

While the IRS papers document MCDC collections and expenditures through Dec. 31, a reported donation total of $418,493 is significantly less than the $1.6 million MCDC President Chris Simcox told The Washington Times in July that the group had collected in donations since its April 2005 creation. That figure was said to include $1 million in direct MCDC contributions and $600,000 toward the construction of a $55 million border fence.

At the time, Mr. Simcox said MCDC had spent $160,000 for two border vigils in April 2005 and October 2005, supplying volunteers with equipment, including computers, satellite phones, food and trailers.

He also said the organization spent another $36,000 for monthly, three-day musters by MCDC in the four border states.

MCDC officials declined to discuss the Form 990 report with The Washington Times, but Mr. Simcox said in a statement posted on the organization’s Web site, “We are releasing our organizational IRS Form 990 and the additional audited financial statements on deadline, as promised, when promised.”

He also said that the group’s board of directors, which he heads, had decided that “this year and this year only” it would make public the organization’s financial statements — citing what he called “outright malicious lies about the status of MCDC finances.”

In July, several MCDC leaders and volunteers questioned the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars in donations the organization had collected.

Several of the group’s top lieutenants either quit or threatened to quit, saying requests to Mr. Simcox for a financial accounting have been ignored. Others said money promised for supplies never reached volunteers at the border.

Mr. Simcox, during the July interview, denied the accusations, describing his critics as “known racialists, anti-Semites and a small handful of disgruntled people who have been terminated from staff or from leadership involvement with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps over a year ago because they could not meet MCDC standards or adhere to our strict field standard operational procedures.”

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