Feathered Bastard

Minuteman leader Chris Simcox sued by pissed-off donor over border fence.

A pic from Nat'l Geographic of the MCDC fence on a ranch in Naco, Arizona, now the subject of a lawsuit.

More troubles for Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Prez Chris Simcox, aka "The Little Prince," who just recently had to put down a "palace coup" (his words) instigated by Minuteman leaders demanding answers to questions about MCDC finances: Now Simcox is being sued by a disgruntled donor over the MCDC's plan to build "Israeli-style" fencing on private property near the U.S.-Mexico border. The Sierra Vista Herald reports that, In a complaint filed May 22 in Maricopa County Superior Court, Jim Campbell, a retired homebuilder and Air Force veteran from Fountain Hills, accused Simcox and the MCDC of falsely promising to build a multi-layered Israeli-style security barrier on the Palominas ranch of John and Jack Ladd.

Campbell alleges that, after hearing the MCDC publicize the plan in April 2006, he had three telephone conversations with Peter Kunz, project manager for the effort, in which Kunz promised the Israeli-style barrier would be built along 10 miles of the Ladd ranch.

Encouraged by the plan, Campbell says he took out a loan on his home and donated $100,000 to the project on May 22, 2006, with the stipulation that it be used to purchase steel tubing for the Ladds’ fence. However, by the May 27, 2006, groundbreaking, the Ladds had rejected the double-layered, 14-foot barrier in favor of a traditional range fence. “To date, MCDC has not constructed any ‘Israeli-style’ border fencing on the property where the groundbreaking ceremony took place, in breach of agreement between it and Campbell,” the complaint states.

Campbell says he asked for his donation back, but Simcox told him the money would be used to build an Israeli-style barrier along 9/10 mile of Richard Hodges’ border-front ranch in Bisbee Junction.

Instead, Campbell alleges, the money was diverted to other MCDC projects and affiliated groups, while work on Hodges’ fence languished.

Campbell is asking for a total of $1,220,845 in damages and reimbursements from Simcox, the MCDC and Kunz. His suit also names Diener Consultants, a Chicago-based fund-raising organization that has played a central role in the fence-building campaign, and the MCDC-affiliated Declaration Alliance, a Virginia-based charity founded by conservative activist Alan Keyes.

When I was on the horn with Simcox last week about the monkey knife fight going down at the MCDC between himself and disaffected Minutemen, I happened to query him about charges made by the Southern Poverty Law Center that the MCDC's proposed Israeli-style fencing was just a pitch-and-switch for a regular ol' ranch fence. Simcox acted as if the SPLC was arguing that the MCDC had put up nothing, and crowed that National Geographic had a pic of the thing on its website. But as you can see above, the fencing in the Nat'l Geo photo ain't exactly the double-layered security barrier initially touted by the MCDC.

If the suit isn't settled, it could prove very embarrassing for Simcox, the MCDC, Alan Keyes and Diener Consultants. Indeed, it might eventually mean the end of Simcox's reign, maybe of the MCDC itself. MCDC's financial records will be pored over, and it seems unlikely that either the MCDC or Simcox will weather such intense scrutiny. Plus, the fact that there's a suit at all will likely hurt fundraising efforts, and further ding the credibility of The Little Prince.