Skip to content

Bad fences make for cranky neighbors

30 May 2007

I’m trying to get confirmation on a visit by the Minutemen to my town (oh boy, the freak show is coming!), so have been looking around for what’s going on with that outfit.

They’re not doing well. Boo-hoo.

The latest from Jonathan Clark of the Sierra Vista (Arizona) Herald/Review:


BISBEE — A man who mortgaged his home in order to help the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps build border fencing on private land in Cochise County is suing the group and its president, Chris Simcox, for fraud and breach of contract.

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.

Simcox was puzzled by the complaint, saying Campbell had not only donated the $100,000, but had purchased and delivered $60,000 worth of steel tubing himself. Those tubes were used to build the first segment of fencing at Hodges’ property, Simcox said, and the remaining $40,000 was used to purchase steel panels for the barrier.

“That steel is in the ground,” Simcox said. “His $100,000 is sitting out there on the Hodges ranch. We’ve showed good faith.”

Simcox acknowledged that work on Hodges’ fence had stalled, but he promised that it would begin again as soon as the necessary funds are raised.

“I’m sorry it has not gone as quickly as we had thought, but you can only erect as much fence as you have the donations for,” he said.

Last week, Simcox fired at least four MCDC volunteer officials who held a meeting May 19 in Phoenix to air grievances about the group’s executive leadership.

He said the expelled officials — New Mexico Chapter Director Bob Wright, Oklahoma Chapter Director Greg Thompson, National Operations Officer Bill Irwin and former Arizona chapter head Stacey O’Connell — had violated MCDC policy by calling an unauthorized meeting. And he accused them of attempting to seize control of the Minutemen in response to a plan to restructure the group’s leadership.

Wright denied that he and the others were attempting a power grab. He said they simply wanted to address several perceived problems, including a lack of financial accountability and Simcox’s heavy-handed leadership style.

“This was a tragic, tragic misjudgment on (Simcox’s) part because these were just state leaders who were seeing some things going on inside MCDC they thought could be fixed,” Wright said.

“None of these guys make a dime, none of them stand to profit. They spend thousands of dollars of their own money to come down and help secure that border, and I believe that that expenditure of time and money makes them shareholders in the Minutemen and gives them a voice in how things are going.”

Minuteman border fence timeline

• April 2006: MCDC President Chris Simcox announces that his organization will begin constructing border fences on private land unless the White House deploys military personnel to the border by May 25.

• May 2006: A post to the Minuteman HQ Web site shows a fence design based on an Israeli model: two parallel 12- to 15-foot fences mounted with surveillance cameras flanked by trenches and razor wire.

According to the Web site, more than 1,000 people have signed up to help build the barrier and supporters have donated more than $225,000 to the effort.

• May 15, 2006: MCDC Executive Director Al Garza says the Minutemen are going ahead with their fence-building plan, and that a ranch in Cochise County has been chosen as the site for the first fence.

• May 22, 2006: Jack Ladd, owner of the ranch where the fence is to be built, tells the Herald/Review he is not interested in the Israeli-style barrier. Instead, he wants the Minutemen to build a reinforced five-strand range fence that will protect his cattle and stop drive-throughs on his property.

• May 27, 2006: The Minutemen hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ladd ranch featuring speeches from former ambassador to the United Nations Alan Keyes, MCDC president Chris Simcox and Jim Campbell, a Fountain Hills man who mortgaged his home to donate $100,000 to the effort. Simcox says his group is eyeing a property 4 1/2 miles east of Naco for its next fence-building project — a property later identified as Richard Hodges’ ranch in Bisbee Junction.

• July 18, 2006: Cochise County Planning Director Judy Anderson rules the county cannot block construction of a double-layered, 14-foot high-tech security fence at Hodges’ ranch because the barrier will serve an agricultural purpose.

• August 2006: The Minutemen break ground on 9/10 mile of fencing at Hodges’ ranch. The group also announces that a private Washington-based company called FOMGuard USA has agreed to donate $7.8 worth of fiber-optic sensor meshing to the project.

• Jan. 28, 2007: MCDC volunteers finish constructing 9 1/2 miles of range fencing on the Ladd ranch.

• January 2007: Work on the partially completed MCDC fence at the Hodges ranch is suspended, reportedly due to a lack of funds and volunteers.

• February 2007: Simcox sends a letter to MCDC volunteers asking for donations to raise the more than $300,000 necessary to finish Hodges’ fence.

• May 2007: The MCDC announces to its volunteers that work on Hodges’ fence is about to begin again and that it needs $400,000 in donations to finish the project.

• May 22, 2007: Jim Campbell files a $1.2 million lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court accusing the MCDC, Simcox and several related parties of fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract.

What, no honor among… well, not exactly thieves (maybe) but… fools?

No comments yet

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: