Minuteman Founder Must Pay Former Close Ally He Smeared
Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the border-watching Minuteman Project, has never been shy about expressing his opinions, especially when it comes to his many critics. But now his pugnaciousness has cost him dearly in a long-running feud with a former Minuteman ally.
Last month, an Orange County, Calif., Superior Court judge issued a summary ruling in a series of small-claims suits, declaring that Gilchrist had indulged in “Big Lie” tactics by publicly smearing a woman named Deborah Courtney — a former key member of the board of directors of Gilchrist’s organization — and ordered him to pay her $42,501.
It’s only the latest comedown in the long and steady decline of Gilchrist’s anti-immigrant outfit. In the seven years since the Minuteman Project (MMP) made a national media splash with vigilante border watches in Arizona and elsewhere, the border-watch movement has largely fallen on hard times - and no one symbolizes that fall better than Gilchrist.
The civil-lawsuit loss was only the latest chapter in the six-year soap opera that followed the eruption of an internal feud in the ranks of the Minuteman Project in late 2006, the immediate result of which was that the MMP board - including Courtney - fired Gilchrist and assumed control of the operation.