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2/26: Minuteman founder wants reins back
Released 27 February 2007  By Jennifer Delson, Los Angeles Times

Minuteman founder wants reins back

By Jennifer Delson, Los Angeles Times
February 26, 2007

Jim Gilchrist, the Orange County accountant who gained national recognition as the co-founder of a citizen border patrol group, will ask a judge this afternoon to issue a restraining order in order to regain control of the Minuteman Project.

Earlier this month, Gilchrist was removed by his board of directors, which accused the charismatic anti-illegal-immigrant figure of abusing his power. Minuteman Project officials said they will detail their allegations at a press conference later this afternoon.

The rift, Gilchrist said, "could very well bring an end to the entire Minuteman Project. There are groups around the country with the name, but we are the most well known and the most powerful."

Gilchrist said he did nothing wrong. His opponents, he said, are motivated by "a greed for power and a false perception of an endless stream of money."

He said he plans to continue his work, which began in 2005 with a citizen border patrol that gained widespread media attention and a criticism from President Bush, who called them "vigilantes."

Robert Vasquez, a former county commissioner in Idaho who, in his elected position, sued companies that hired illegal workers, said top conservative leaders turned against Gilchrist. Among them is Barbara Coe, who heads California Coalition for Immigration Reform and co-authored Proposition 187, the ballot measure that sought to deny undocumented immigrants certain public benefits.

"Sometimes a position becomes bigger than the man," Vasquez said. "It's unfortunate that it has reached this point."

Gilchrist opponents filed a complaint against their former leader with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging that he did not obtain nonprofit status for the Minuteman organization and improperly used a discount postal rate to solicit donations.

Gilchrist said a direct mail organization was responsible to secure the nonprofit status and if it hadn't, it didn't amount to a criminal error on his part.

Board members voted to replace Gilchrist with Marvin Stewart, an African American minister. Gilchrist said the board members have no voting power and serve in an advisory capacity.

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