Follow the Money

How could you not trust this man?

We were a little shocked when we read an article in the Washington Times a couple of weeks ago about how members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps were complaining about a lack of transparency when it came to the organization's finances.

The accusations weren't that shocking, since everyone knows hate-mongering is a profitable biz; what got us was that the charge came from the Wash Times, a conservative daily owned by Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

The Minutemen made news last year when the organization announced it was coming to Texas, so Hair Balls sought out the truth to these accusations. The thing is, the truth was a little too long to fit on the page, so we decided to do what we could in print and parse the rest here.

It all started with a July 20 article in the Times, in which reporter Jerry Seper wrote:

A growing number of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps leaders and volunteers are questioning the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars in donations collected in the past 15 months, challenging the organization's leadership over financial accountability.

Many of the group's most active members say they have no idea how much money has been collected as part of its effort to stop illegal entry -- primarily along the U.S.-Mexico border, what it has been spent on or why it has been funneled through a Virginia-based charity headed by conservative Alan Keyes.

Damn, that's a serious accusation. We'll award one point to the Wash Times for moxie.

Wash Times: 1
Minutemen: 0

So we sent Minuteman spokeswoman Connie Hair a copy of the article, and she replied:

"The story has been pulled from the Washington Times Weekly national edition, as the editors and board members now are very concerned that the entire article contains no factual allegations, only rumor and innuendo. The reporter hadn't talked to two of his three sources (we're not sure about the third) in over a year, and these "sources" had been relieved of any leadership position over a year ago, near the very beginning."

Oh, snap! Take that, Washington Times. You know your story was bunk and you totally don't stand behind it. Shazam! Point: Minutemen.

Wash Times: 1
Minutemen: 1

But then we got in touch with reporter Jerry Seper, who emailed this response:

"I stand behind the Minuteman stories 100 percent. There is widespread concern among both former and active members concerning the organization's leadership and accountability. Accusations concerning the reliability of the sources are unfounded and those making them know it."

Who are the liars now, Minutemen? You got busted. Point: Wash Times.

Wash Times: 2
Minutemen: 1

Not so fast, says Minuteman President Chris Simcox, in a response posted on the organization's Web site:

"Critics are obtaining false information from known racialists, anti-Semites and a small handful of disgruntled people who have been terminated from staff or from leadership involvement with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps over a year ago because they could not meet MCDC standards or adhere to our strict field standard operational procedures.

Consequently, these dismissed Minutemen have no actual knowledge of MCDC finances, regulatory compliance, filing deadlines, non-profit status, or other accountability matters."

Boo, yeah! He sure told them. How could they...wait a minute, so he's saying anyone who criticizes the Minutemen is a racist? Well, that's creative. Pot, say hello to kettle. We'll give him two points for the Bizarro logic, but we'll have to subtract one since he didn't really explain what was happening to the money.

Wash Times: 2
Minutemen: 2

Shortly after Seper replied, the Wash Times brought out the big guns, a.k.a. Managing Editor Fran Coombs, who emailed this:

"Chris Simcox and company can attack this newspaper all day long, which is ironic given the coverage we have given their issue and their organization over the years. But the story isn't about The Washington Times; it's about the money that countless American citizens contributed in good faith to the Minutemen because they believed in the cause of securing our nation's borders. So it's time for the Minutemen to stop the runaround and to start answering two very simple questions: Where's the money, and how is it being spent?"

Talk to the hand, Simcox. You just got schooled by the classic "don't blame the messenger" technique. Point: Wash Times.

Wash Times: 3
Minutemen: 2

And we have a winner.

But we don't have an answer: What exactly is happening to all those donations? — Keith Plocek



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