Friday, March 30, 2007

What a Fiasco from a Minuteman Group. Did you believe your donations were using for protect our Country? Just look at this report and make your mind straight. They are using you............

Edited by me.

I would go so far as to call you a Treasonous Dog who is deserving of the hangman's noose!" I don't often open a column by quoting a reader, but this love note from Minuteman Michael McKinney of San Clemente was so heartfelt and so evocative of the prevailing sentiment of those who disagree with my radical theory that we should let the lawmen administer the law in this country that I just had to give it prominence. And who says the Minutemen are vigilantes?

I've learned a couple of things about the Minutemen in the 24 hours since my last column about them.

Perhaps most interesting is that founder Jim Gilchrist could end up winning control of the group and its bank accounts in court and yet suffer a huge financial loss. In fact, he personally might be better off if he does lose in court. This was explained to me by one of the board members he's fighting, Deborah Ann Courtney, who I knew before she ever got mixed up with Gilchrist. When Gilchrist incorporated the group, Courtney told me, he did so in Delaware as a 501(c)(4) corporation, which meant it did not need to pay federal income tax on the donations it received. The IRS, however, has three years to grant that status, and that deadline is still a year away.

One requirement is that the entity have a board of directors. If Gilchrist is successful arguing in court that there is not a legitimate board and that the Minutemen is essentially a sole proprietorship, he will likely not be granted the tax-exempt status. That means, Courtney says, he's on the hook to pay taxes on $1.5 million to $2 million in donations, return the donations, or some combination of both. Didn't he used to be an accountant?

The other thing I've learned is that there's more than one anti-illegal-immigration group that calls itself the Minutemen. In fact, nobody really knows how many there are. Gilchrist founded the Minutemen Project about the same time another group started to patrol the border. That group has become known as the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, is national in scope and "above reproach," according to its leader, Chris Simcox. He claims "13,631 apprehensions of people from 26 countries including Poland and Belarus, (and) 286 lifesaving rescues of men, women and children." Of Gilchrist's group, Simcox says: "Jim's Minuteman Project is given way too much credit for doing what? Holding a few protests and ranting and raving." Also, Simcox says, the San Diego group being investigated in the migrant camp vandalism is affiliated with neither him nor Gilchrist "because they could not conform to our SOP and code of conduct." For you civilians, SOP means "standard operating procedure."

Yeah, I'll testify to the ranting and raving. But the important thing here is that Minutemen are fighting among themselves.

So the Legislative Counsel of California has opined that all recounts of electronically cast ballots must be done through the paper audit trail. Had Judge Michael Brenner known that on Monday, he might have ruled in Trung's favor and not Janet's. Trung attorney Mike Schroeder thinks the opinion would have been "very persuasive" with Brenner. Phil Greer, Janet's attorney, says the opinion "has no legal basis" and would carry no more weight than a "friend of the court" brief. "Mike is grasping at straws," Greer says.

Regardless, I was more curious as to why Brenner didn't have access to the ruling. The Leg Counsel's four-page opinion is dated March 19. So why wasn't it introduced in trial last week, as were the Elections Code, an Attorney General's opinion, the Secretary of State's guidelines and a bunch of case law? The opinion was requested by Sen. Dick Ackerman, who says he didn't release it until after the trial because of the Legislature's "internal policy" not to have its counsel's opinions become a part of a lawsuit. Schroeder said he intends to make it part of his probable appeal.

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