The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps calls itself a “project of the Declaration Alliance,” although few MCDC volunteers know what the alliance does or why Minuteman donations are routed through the charity founded and headed by conservative activist Alan Keyes.
Several Minuteman leaders and members questioned the wisdom of ceding control over fundraising to the Herndon-based Declaration Alliance, part of an intricate weave of conservative organizations founded and chaired by Mr. Keyes or tied to longtime Keyes associates working with MCDC.
MCDC President Chris Simcox told The Washington Times that the alliance offers “an experienced organization for mass mailings, advertising and public relations” and the ability to conduct a “fully accredited and independent audit” of MCDC finances.
Mr. Simcox said he “checked these people out very carefully before agreeing to work with them” and that he made the “correct decision” in hiring “clean professional consultants, accountants and media professionals.” He did not, however, disclose during an interview last week or in a 3,961-word follow-up statement how much Declaration Alliance and its affiliated organizations have been paid for their services.
During the interview, he said, “Not one cent of MCDC money has been spent on alliance projects.” The statement, released on the MCDC Web page, www.minutemanhq.com/hq/, does not mention Declaration Alliance or Mr. Keyes.
Founded in 1996 by Mr. Keyes, Declaration Alliance is a charity with tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Service guidelines. Along with its political action committee, DAPAC, it forms the “political counterpart” of Declaration Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization also founded by Mr. Keyes.
According to its Web page (www.declarationalliance.org), the alliance seeks to influence policy and legislation, including initiatives to protect constitutional rights. Its 2006 political goals, through DAPAC, include overturning Roe v. Wade, replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, protecting the right to keep and bear arms, prosecuting the war on terrorism, and securing America’s borders “against foreign invasion.”
The alliance also has targeted for defeat Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, whom it calls “hard-core, left-wing liberals,” and Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio and Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, whom it calls “money-Is-God incumbents.”
Mr. Keyes said his “Declaration organizations” became involved with MCDC in 2005 and he has sought to do “all in my power” to assist its “growth into a national civic movement as quickly as possible.” He said he has “full faith and confidence” in those responsible for ensuring that the Declaration organizations “adhere to all statutory obligations in our efforts” to assist MCDC.
He said those who have questioned MCDC’s leadership, fundraising, accountability and ties to his Declaration organizations are anti-immigrant racists “and other unsavory fringe elements attempting to hijack the border security debate to further their individual agendas.”
Groups aligned with the Declaration Alliance and the Minuteman organization include:
Diener Consulting Inc., whose president is Phil Sheldon, son of the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition. Diener serves as the MCDC’s public-relations arm, as it did for Mr. Keyes in his unsuccessful 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns and failed U.S. Senate races in Maryland and Illinois. Peter Kunz, a Diener employee, manages the Minuteman border fence project. Connie Hair, another Diener employee, is MCDC’s spokeswoman.
Renew America, a Washington, D.C.-based fundraising organization founded by Mr. Keyes that advocates the “basic principles and core values of the conservative movement.” Its Web site (www.renewamerica.us) provides a direct link for donations to the Minuteman organization through Declaration Alliance, offers a Minuteman “message board” and lists a link for people to volunteer or donate to the Minuteman fence project.
Response Unlimited, the self-proclaimed “best and most comprehensive source of mailing lists for conservative and Christian mailers and telemarketers,” which offers — for a fee — the names and contact information of Minuteman donors. The charge is $120 for every 1,000 names, with 150,000 names now available. The Waynesboro, Va., firm, headed by Christian right activist Philip Zodhiates, also maintains an “exclusive contract” with the Declaration Foundation.
RightMarch.com, founded by conservative activist William Greene in 2003 as a counter to MoveOn.org, a liberal tax-exempt organization that raised money to defeat President Bush. Mr. Greene, whose partner is Mr. Sheldon, president at Diener, raised more than $500,000 for Mr. Keyes’ 2004 senatorial campaign. He joined MCDC on the border in April in Arizona; sent 400,000 faxes, e-mails and letters to Congress demanding a secure border; and helps raise MCDC donations through a direct link on its Web page to the Declaration Alliance.
Diener Consultants first contacted the Minuteman organization in early 2005, said Ms. Hair, the MCDC spokeswoman who also was a top adviser to Mr. Keyes in his presidential and senatorial races. She said she called Mr. Simcox after the Minuteman group was created to ask whether he had a media plan. After being told no, she said, she met with Mr. Simcox and Minuteman co-founder James Gilchrist in Washington and signed an agreement.
She and a colleague, Mary Parker Lewis, now president and chief executive officer at Politechs, a Los Angeles-based political consulting firm and a former officer at Diener Consulting, later introduced Mr. Simcox to Mr. Keyes. Mrs. Lewis also is an official with Declaration Foundation, Declaration Alliance and Renew America.