- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

As supporters of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, we were disheartened to read Jerry Seper’s front-page article Thursday about questions and criticisms of President Chris Simcox’s management of the organization. According to the article, the volunteer group has not made any financial statements or fundraising records public since April 2005 — circumstances that have strained relations between Mr. Simcox and several of his top employees, some of whom have resigned in protest.

Mr. Simcox must resolve these problems quickly. Failure to do so would only encourage the organization’s critics — who have made no secret of their desire to see the Minuteman volunteers arrested for vigilantism. But more importantly, according to Mr. Simcox’s estimate, Americans have donated $1.6 million to the corps because they believe in their mission to secure the southern border. In return, the least they should expect is transparency and the assurance that their donations went to help the volunteers in the field. But the truth is that no one except Mr. Simcox knows how much money has been donated and what it has been used for.

So far, Mr. Simcox has been unable to come up with a good explanation — at least one that can be independently verified. And while he insists the money went to help field operations, workers at these locations tell a different story. For instance, Vern Kilburn, who resigned earlier this year as director of operations for the organization’s northern Texas sector, told The Washington Times that only two checks for $1,000 came from Minuteman headquarters in October and that other directors across the country “are having similar problems.” Some volunteers said that money promised by Mr. Simcox for food and supplies never arrived. “An awful lot of equipment I saw was donated,” said Mike Gaddy, who resigned last year after serving as director of operations in New Mexico.

Part of the problem, say the critics, is that Mr. Simcox decided to route donations through the Herndon-based Declaration Alliance, founded by conservative activist Alan Keyes. According to Mr. Simcox, the Declaration Alliance will give the Minuteman group the resources required to maintain the movement through mass mailings, public relations and the ability to conduct “a fully accredited and independent audit.” That’s all fine, except that Mr. Simcox has not disclosed how much he’s paying the Declaration Alliance for its services nor how that money is being used.

It’s interesting to note from the article how those who have resigned from Minuteman over differences with Mr. Simcox nevertheless reiterate their belief in the organization’s mission. Indeed, if that mission is to continue, Mr. Simcox must get Minuteman’s financial house in order.

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