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.
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 expenditure of time and money makes them shareholders in the Minutemen and gives them a voice in how things are going."