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Our Opinion: Minutemen can’t control their own funds

The Minutemen Civil Defense Corps has burned through at least $1 million with no financial statements or bookeeping.

The Minutemen, a ragtag group of individuals dedicated to the cause of sitting in lawn chairs and staring at the U.S.-Mexico border, was launched because its members said the government wasn’t responsible enough to control the border.

But it turns out it is the Minutemen group that lacks responsibility. Leaders of the organization have collected more than $1 million and can’t – or won’t – say where the money went.

The Minutemen appropriated the name of a heroic and independent group of American volunteers who fought in the Revolutionary War. Use of their name by the current individuals is an insult.

There are two groups who call themselves Minutemen: The Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, which was founded by erstwhile Tombstone newspaper publisher Chris Simcox, and the Minuteman Project Inc., started by Jim Gilchrist of California.

They have essentially the same beliefs and goals – asking civilians to patrol the border to spot illegal immigrants.

But Simcox’s outfit has become a financial black hole, burning through scads of money with few or no financial controls.

The Washington Times reported that some members of the group have no idea how much money has been collected or what it has been spent on since the organization was created in April 2005.

No financial statements or fundraising records have been made public. The group claims it is a nonprofit organization, but it has not filed required paperwork despite receiving an extension.

Simcox is vague about the money. He told the Times that about $1 million has been collected plus another $600,000 for a border fence. It all has been funneled through a Virginia-based charity headed by conservative commentator Alan Keyes.

What does all this mean?

Donate money to the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps if you like. Or throw it down a rat hole. Either is likely to be equally effective and equally well handled.

Both Minutemen organizations are more effective at making headlines than making a difference. Border security should be handled by the paid professionals of the federal government, not by ad hoc volunteers.

This country’s immigration system needs fixing. But it needs to be fixed by Congress. The Minutemen are individuals we’re not ready to trust with much more than a good pair of binoculars.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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