- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2007

The top leaders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps have been terminated by the group’s president, Chris Simcox, for requesting a meeting to discuss a lack of financial accountability by the organization’s leadership.

The purge was ordered by Mr. Simcox, who came under fire last year over questions about how much money the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) had raised and where it had gone, and included several top lieutenants, most of whom have been with the organization since its April 2005 founding.

Those fired include Bob Wright, deputy executive director; Bill Irwin, national operations officer; Greg Thompson, national training coordinator; and Stacey O’Connell, Arizona state chapter director.

The four, along with a dozen MCDC state chapter leaders, had sought a May 19 meeting with Mr. Simcox in Phoenix over what they described as a “serious” lack of financial accountability. Many of them had signed loyalty pledges last year for Mr. Simcox when accusations of financial irregularities were first reported.

The MCDC is an organization of volunteers who set up observation posts along the U.S.-Mexico border to bring attention to rising illegal entry into the U.S. Although the amount of money it has raised through donations and other sources is not clear, its membership total is said to stand at about 4,000 — each of whom paid a $50 registration fee.

Many of the original members have left the organization to form separate groups, citing financial concerns and other leadership problems.

In a May 8 letter to Mr. Simcox, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, the group sought a May 19 meeting with the MCDC president, saying that financial information had to be turned over to local and state chapters. The letter said long-standing requests for the information have gone unanswered.

In the letter, the group — which described itself as the leadership committee — said MCDC chapters were not getting the tools and resources they had been promised and that reimbursements for ongoing out-of-pocket expenditures were not made in a timely manner, if at all.

In response, Mr. Simcox told Mr. Wright in a memo that the MCDC Board of Directors, which he heads, had not authorized the creation of a leadership committee; that any meeting it scheduled was not “sanctioned or approved” and that any business or actions it proposed violated the “chain of command.”

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, notified Mr. Wright, Mr. Irwin, Mr. Thompson and Mr. O’Connell that they were fired and warned the others that if they attended any meetings not approved by the board, they also would be terminated.

Mr. Simcox was not available yesterday, and his office did not respond to questions e-mailed to MCDC headquarters.

In a letter to “fellow Minutemen,” Mr. Wright said the firings would have a “devastating effect” on MCDC, adding that none of those terminated “have ever had their dedication questioned, or have ever brought even a hint of disgrace or scandal to your MCDC.”

“Each is a proven dedicated patriot who has always kept our mission foremost while fiercely protecting the integrity of the organization you and they have built,” he wrote. “What great crime was committed by this group to bring about the termination of half the national leadership and almost half of the state leadership?”

“I did not expect Chris to be happy about it, but neither I nor the state leaders anticipated the paranoia driven nightmare we were about to be plunged into,” he said.

In their letter to Mr. Simcox, the leadership committee accused Mr. Simcox of micromanaging the group, saying, “It appears to us that one person has complete control of the organization from financial, operational, new chapter development, leadership placement, media and public relations.”

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