Min­ute­man’s fi­nances kept se­cret by firm

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Jerry Seper

A Texas firm that man­ages hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in do­na­tions to the Min­ute­man Civil De­fense Corps says it has not been au­tho­rized to di­vulge a de­tailed ac­count­ing of the funds, de­spite­as­sur­ances­bytheMCDC’stop of­fi­cial that it would do so.

Mau­reen E. Otis — pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Caging Inc. in Stafford, Texas, an agency hired to col­lect, de­posi­tand­dis­burse­do­na­tion­stothe civil­ian border-pa­trol group — told The Wash­ing­ton Times that nei­ther MCDC Pres­i­dent Chris Simcox nor the group’s board of direc­tors had given her per­mis­sion to “dis­close

any num­bers.”

Mr. Simcox, who has been crit­i­cized by cur­rent and for­mer MCDC mem­bers­foralack­oflead­er­shipand fi­nan­cialac­count­abil­ity,hadre­ferred The Times to Mrs. Otis, say­ing she could “tell you ev­ery­thing” to clear up the con­cerns.

In­stead, Mrs. Otis is­sued a state­mentsayin­gonlythat all Min­ute­man do­na­tions have been “se­curely col­lected, counted and de­posited” in MCDC bank ac­counts.

Tele­phone calls to Mr. Simcox in Phoenix, where he re­port­edly is on pa­ter­nity leave, were routed to Min­ute­mans­pokeswom­anCon­nieHair in Vir­ginia, who said the or­ga­ni­za­tion was not go­ing to re­lease “any unau­dited num­bers.” She said that an au­dit will be com­pleted in Novem­ber and that any re­lease of fig­ures prior to that “is just not go­ing to hap­pen.”

Mary Parker Lewis, a top MCDC con­sul­tant, has said the au­dit seeks to es­tab­lish MCDC as a tax-ex­empt, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. She told The Times that MCDC would meet “all its le­gal obli­ga­tions” in seek­ing to or­ga­nize.

In­April,Mrs.LewisandMs.Hair de­clined to an­swer 17 writ­ten ques­tions sub­mit­ted by The Times con­cern­ing MCDC fi­nances af­ter sev­er­al­cur­rentand­formerMin­ute­men first raised ques­tions about money com­ing into the or­ga­ni­za­tion. They al­so­did­notre­spond­toafol­low-up list of seven ques­tions in June.

MCDC has not re­leased any fi­nan­cial or­fundrais­in­grecordss­ince its April 2005 cre­ation to ei­ther the pub­lic or its mem­bers. Dis­clo­sure state­ments promised to The Times by Mr. Simcox in Oc­to­ber and later in April were never de­liv­ered. He since has ac­cused crit­ics of be­ing racists, anti-Semites and “a small hand­ful of dis­grun­tled peo­ple who have been ter­mi­nated.”

Last month, sev­eral Min­ute­men ques­tioned what hap­pened to do­na­tions col­lected since the group’s first border vigil in Ari­zona in April 2005. They said they had no idea how much money had been re­ceived, how it had been spent or why it was be­ing routed through a Vir­ginia-based char­ity headed by con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Alan Keyes.

Some of them have since chal­lenged claims by Mr. Simcox that MCDC “spent prob­a­bly about what we col­lected” to pay for sup­plies for Min­ute­man vol­un­teers on the border, in­clud­ing satel­lite phones, ra­dios, flash­lights, maps, por­ta­ble toi­lets, ther­mal imag­ing cam­eras, night-vi­sion cam­eras, com­put­ers, wa­ter and food.

Mike Gaddy, a re­tired Army vet­eran of Viet­nam, Gre­nada and Beirutwho­helpe­dor­ga­nizetheMin­ute­man’s vigil asafield­co­or­di­na­tor, said that if Mr. Simcox spent about what was col­lected to pur­chas­esup­plies­forthevol­un­teers, he didn’t see any of it.

“An aw­ful lot of the equip­ment I sawwas do­nated,” he said.

Other Min­ute­man­mem­bers con­firmed two weeks ago that much of the equip­ment they used dur­ing the border vig­ils, in­clud­ing night-vi­sion binoc­u­lars and Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tems, was do­nated.

Gary Cole, MCDC’s for­mer na­tional di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions, said hep­er­son­al­ly­col­lected“ten­soft­hou­sands of dol­lars” in do­na­tions dur­ingthe30-day­bor­der­watch in April 2005, but was never told how much money had been col­lected or where it went.He said he later was fired by Mr. Simcox as a na­tional di­rec­tor “for ask­ing too many ques­tions about the money.”

Last month,Mr.Simcox said $1.6 mil­lion in do­na­tions had been col­lected, al­though he had no doc­u­ments to ver­ify the claim. He said $1 mil­lion went di­rectly to MCDC and$600,000 for a fence on the U.S.Mex­ico border, all of it han­dled through the Hern­don-based Dec­la­ra­tion Al­liance, founded and chaired by Mr. Keyes.

Mr.Keyes has en­dorsed the Min­ute­man or­ga­ni­za­tion as pro­grams of Dec­la­ra­tion Al­liance and the Dec­la­ra­tion Foun­da­tion, an­other Vir­ginia-based char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion he heads. He also ac­cused crit­ics of be­ing “de­cid­edly racist and anti-Semitic,” say­ing they had been re­moved as mem­bers of the Min­ute­man or­ga­ni­za­tion.

For a fee, Amer­i­can Caging man­ages money col­lected by non­profit groups, their tele­mar­keters and di­rect-re­spon­seagen­cies.Cag­ing­firms givenon­prof­i­tor­ga­ni­za­tion­s­the abil­ity tore­ceive­and­dis­burse­do­na­tions with­out hav­ing to hire a staff.

In ad­di­tion to MCDC, the firm’s clients in­clude Dec­la­ra­tion Foun­da­tion, Dec­la­ra­tion Al­liance and the Dec­la­ra­tion Al­liance Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee. It also has han­dled funds for Mr. Keyes’ un­suc­cess­ful po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, in­clud­ing his failed2004sen­a­to­ri­al­ra­cein Illi­nois, for which it was paid $30,530.

Amer­i­can Caging also han­dles other clients aligned with MCDC, Mr. Keyes and the Al­liance or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing Diener Con­sult­ing Inc., which serves as the Min­ute­man group’s pub­lic-re­la­tions arm, as it did in Mr. Keyes’ un­suc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial and sen­a­to­rial cam­paigns; and Re­new Amer­ica, a fundrais­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by Mr. Keyes that pro­vides a link for do­na­tions to MCDC through Dec­la­ra­tion Al­liance.

Other Amer­i­can Caging clients in­clude Re­sponse Un­lim­ited, which makes mail­ing lists — in­clud­ing the MCDC mem­ber­ship — avail­able to con­ser­va­tive mail­ers and tele­mar­keters and has an “exclusive con­tract” with Dec­la­ra­tion Foun­da­tion; and RightMarch.com, which raised $500,000 for Mr. Keyes’ 2004 sen­a­to­ri­al­cam­paig­nand­help­sraiseMin­ute­man do­na­tions through a link on its Web­page­toDec­la­ra­tionAl­liance.

Mr. Simcox also serves as “hon­orary chair­man” of the Min­ute­man Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, which says it has spent $350,000 this year to help sup­port sev­eral can­di­dates. Mrs. Lewis, who served as chief of staff to Mr. Keyes in his pres­i­den­tial race­sand­has­been af­fil­i­ated with­Diener Con­sult­ing and Re­new Amer­ica, is the com­mit­tee’s sec­re­tary.

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