Originally published in the Daily Censored for Project Censored
Nationwide, Republicans have elected extremists, whose radical agenda is now becoming apparent. It should come as no surprise that the most radical of Republicans are those that garnered Tea Party support.
In California, one such radical extremist is newly elected Assemblyman of the 59 District, Tim Donnelly. Donnelly’s history should have been a tell tale sign of his extremism. In the early 90’s, Donnelly and his wife, a woman of Filipino heritage, moved to Twin Peaks, California. Twin Peaks is a beautiful area located just outside Lake Arrowhead. At the time, the community was mostly white. However, over the next decade or so the Latino student population doubled, to approximately 20 percent.
According to an in-depth article on Donnelly by the LA Weekly, when an 11 year old Latino boy allegedly sexually harassed a white girl of the same age, Donnelly became so outraged he began spreading malicious rumors about the boy and his family. Using his internet site, Donnelly wrote of how the boy “molested” and terrorized at least 11 girls. Donnelly claimed these details came from the Education Department report, when in fact the unsubstantiated rumors came from the girl’s mother. Donnelly also claimed the boy’s parents were illegal immigrants, although that too was never proved.
Soon after, Donnelly heard on talk radio Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen Project, call for volunteers to help monitor the Arizona boarder for illegal immigrants. Donnelly found his calling. Within days of hearing Gilchrist, Donnelly had packed up his guns, kissed his wife goodbye, and headed off to Tombstone.
Donnelly quickly befriended Gilchrist. Donnelly decided that the best way for him to help the Minutemen would be put himself in front of the cameras and reporters. He continued to spin his embellished tales about Latinos raping women. He even began to insert himself into the fabricated stories. Here for example is how Donnelly described one night out in the Arizona desert:
“I thought the wailings we heard at night were the coyotes barking at the moon,” he told The Washington Times. “I didn’t know until later that those sounds were the cries of women being raped in the Mexican desert, some less than 100 yards away from the border. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it. It’s something you never forget.”
However, Donnelly wasn’t even there. He had originally heard the story from another Minuteman supporter who gave no evidence to support such claims. Nonetheless, Donnelly became a bit of a Minuteman darling. In California, he formed his own Minuteman chapter, which has grown to be the largest chapter in the country.
During these years, Donnelly’s mentor, Jim Gilchrist, had befriended Shawna Forde. To help raise money for the Minutemen, Forde and two accomplices planned an armed robbery of a Latino household which Forde believed was selling drugs. Two Minutemen, pretending to be U.S. Marshalls shot up the front door of the house, broke in, and demanded $12,000. After taking the contents of the family lockbox, Forde’s accomplices shot and killed the man and his 9 year old daughter.
The Minutemen movement has a well documented history of racism. In September, 2008, David Niewert, published an investigative piece on the Minutemen, financed by The Nation Investigative Fund and published in The American Prospect. Niewert points out that while Gilchrist and company have spoken out against the racist elements in their movements, they continue to flirt with known white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups:
“While Considering that the Minutemen were largely built on the sort of nativist appeals long favored by racist organizations, it’s no surprise that racist and white-supremacist elements have been entwined with the movement since its inception. Gilchrist and Simcox both made loud noises about weeding out racist members, though in reality their “background checks” were mostly shams and covert white supremacists were silently tolerated. But even the stigma against overt racism appears to be disappearing among their organizations’ successors. One border-watch group, headed by a former Minuteman Project official named Laine Lawless, went so far as to indulge in an e-mail exchange with a neo-Nazi organization offering tips on how to harass Latinos the old-fashioned way: steal from them, beat them up, mistreat their children, make death threats. This behavior has started to infect the main Minutemen organizations themselves. The MMP’s official Las Vegas chapter, Americans4America, recently co-hosted an anti-immigration strategy session with officials from the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.”
The Council of Conservative Citizens have also been welcomed to Tea Party gatherings, alongside the Koch bothers funded Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party Express rallies. And so has Tim Donnelly. In this video, provided by LA Weekly, Donnelly stands in front of a Tea Party Express bus and promises if elected, “I am not going there to reach across the aisle and make friends. I am going there to reach across the aisle to the enemies of freedom and annihilate them and pound them into the ground and take back our power…I’m sorry, I don’t worship at the altar of global warming and rabid environmentalism…We don’t stop until Americans are back in power.”
Donnelly has warned on his internet site, “It is not a stretch to picture a revolt in Los Angeles, whose population is comprised of over 50 percent illegal aliens.” He has also written: “The facts are incontrovertible that allowing an illegal invasion of the United States will destroy the American Southwest, and very probably wipe out the freedoms we American Christians enjoy, as Muslim Extremists blend in with the so-called ‘innocent’ illegal aliens, and eventually proselytize them.” For these comments, and others, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has listed Donnelly an extremist with a dangerous ideology. SPLC describes Donnelly as, “an antigovernment “Patriot” who grossly exaggerates the criminality of undocumented immigrants (who studies have shown are on average much less criminal than native-born Americans).”
As a newly elected assemblyman, Donnelly’s first order of business has been to introduce an Arizona-style immigration bill. According to the Sacramento Bee:
“Donnelly’s bill would, among other things:
• Ban public officials and agencies from restricting the enforcement of immigration laws or the sharing of a person’s immigration status.
• Make it a misdemeanor to be present on public or private land while in violation of federal immigration laws. The crime would escalate to a felony if the suspect is in possession of dangerous drugs or lethal weapons.
• Prohibit employers from knowingly or intentionally employing an illegal immigrant.
• Require employers to verify the employment eligibility of employees through a federal program, called E-Verify.
• Make it a misdemeanor to transport, harbor, shelter or conceal a person that you know is an illegal immigrant.
• Make it a misdemeanor to encourage or induce someone to enter the state illegally.”
Donnelly’s bill just died in committee. However he has vowed to reintroduce it. Donnelly has already caused a bit of a stir amongst our states Latino population, and those that support loosening up current immigration laws. Some have pointed to Donnelly’s and the Minuteman movement’s affiliations to known racist organizations. They support their position by pointing to Donnelly’s own statements, where he has embellished stories in order to drum up fear and false impressions about Latinos and Muslims.
Donnelly, on the other hand, says he is only concerned with the rule of law, as he interprets it. Donnelly often points to his Filipino wife as proof he is not a racist. It is clear Donnelly believes in his “rule of law” rhetoric. Whether racism plays a part in Donnelly’s world view or not is hard to tell. His own words and actions seem to indicate that racism and bigotry does play a part. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that some of the groups he has associated with have openly expressed dangerous, racist ideology. And that fact, by itself, should tell people something about Donnelly’s motivations.
Posted April 7, 2011
Yesterday, I published a brief editorial on California’s Tea Party/Minuteman assemblyman Tim Donnelly. The article links Donnelly to both the Tea Party and the Minuteman Project, the vigilante boarder patrol organization. The article also questions the racist and bigoted ties to the two organizations.
Today I received an email from Jim Gilchrist:
"There they go again." This column is so full of untruths and misinformation I can understand why this abominable propaganda never made it to the mainstream media.
Laine Lawless runs her own group. She was not part of the Minuteman Project. Nor was Shawna Forde.
Finally, Tim Donnelly has been married for about 20 years to an Asian woman. Don’t lie to the public with innuendos referring to him as a racist.
Neither you, nor Niewart, are credible sources of truth. After all, the first casualty of propaganda is the truth.
Jim Gilchrist, President, The Minuteman Project
In Gilchrist’s email, he makes three claims which he somehow believes proves one of my sources, David Niewart, writing for The Nation Investigative Fund, is not credible, and therefore, neither and I.
So, let’s take a look at Gilchrist’s three claims.
Claim # 1:
JG: “Laine Lawless runs her own group. She was not part of the Minuteman Project.”
DW: Quoting Niewart, “One border-watch group, headed by a former Minuteman Project official named Laine Lawless,”
Niewart writes in his blog: “The e-mail from Lawless, who was also an original member of Chris Simcox’s vigilante militia before it morphed into the Minuteman Project in early 2005, detailed 11 suggestions for ways to harass and terrorize undocumented immigrants, including robbery and "beating up illegals" as they leave their workplace.”
Niewart goes on to state: “Lawless was featured in numerous media reports on the first Minuteman Project campaign in April 2005, during which she patrolled side-by-side with Minuteman vice-president Carmen Mercer. Lawless also traveled to Texas to join the Texas Minutemen in October, when she was quoted in The Austin Chronicle saying she gets an "intellectual and political orgasm" from spying on pro-immigration groups. In that interview, she accused one pro-immigration activist of inserting chants of "White Power!" into an audiotape of Minuteman rallies to discredit the movement.”
That fact is, while Gilchrist may have cut off his personal ties with Lawless in June of 2005 over her emails, Lawless became, and still is an active part of the vigilante boarder patrol movement. However, it is incorrect for him to claim, “She was not part of the Minuteman Project.” She was part of the campaigns surrounding the early months of the Minuteman Project.
Claim # 2:
JG: “Nor was Shawna Forde.”
DW: I wrote in the article: “Jim Gilchrist, had befriended Shawna Forde. To help raise money for the Minutemen, Forde and two accomplices planned an armed robbery of a Latino household which Forde believed was selling drugs."
Now, here is a conservative organization called American’s for Legal Immigration. The organization warned on their website, in February of last year, about their members associating with Gilchrist, due to his connection with Forde and his “continued bizarre and damaging behavior.” Here is an extended excerpt from their website:
“Jim Gilchrist’s Border Operations Manager charged with murder including the death of a 9 year old girl. Please notify all media and candidate contacts that Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project Border Ops Director is in jail awaiting trial.
Allied Leaders, Thank you for your previous understanding and response to our advisory not to circulate the suspicious story and photos released by Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project officer, Shawna Forde. After we advised you about problems with Shawna’s credibility, story, and photos most groups in our movement stopped promoting her claims, except for Shawna’s own group and Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project.
Shawna Forde is the MMP ‘Border Operations Organizer’ for Jim Gilchrist according to claims we found online and appears to be a member of his inner circle, along with Steve Eichler and the few other activists who remain with MMP, despite the groups beleaguered reputation and Gilchrist’s continued bizarre and damaging behavior…”
Claim # 3:
JG: Finally, Tim Donnelly has been married for about 20 years to an Asian woman.
DW: I wrote, "Donnelly and his wife, a woman of Filipino heritage, moved to Twin Peaks, California.” And, “Donnelly often points to his Filipino wife as proof he is not a racist…. Whether racism plays a part in Donnelly’s world view or not is hard to tell.”
I also point out Donnelly’s history of embellishing the facts and his own statements which lead many people to believe, right or wrongly, he may have some bigoted and racist tendencies. Just because someone has no racist views towards “Asians,” doesn’t mean they might not share racist views towards Blacks or Latinos. Racism is often localized to one specific group. Racism is a complex problem, but this fact is not that difficult to understand.