Of the 54 groups that registered a lobbyist’s opinion on a bill tightening voting requirements in Iowa, only one expressed support: the Iowa Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. The national Minutemen corps has a storied history for its anti-immigrant, and in the view of civil right groups, white-supremacist positions. In earlier times, it took a vigilante approach to patrolling the border and nabbing undocumented immigrants. Lately it has focused on rhetoric and advocacy, and tipping off law enforcement on where to look for the undocumented. Though individual chapters remain, the national corps seems to have disbanded after its president in 2010 called on members to “return to the border locked, loaded and ready to stop each and every individual we encounter along the frontier,” and then she thought better of it.
A neo-Nazi named J.T. Ready co-founded the group in the mid-2000s, inspired by the motto, “The purity of the Aryan race is the most precious resource nature has to offer all of humankind.” He died in 2012 of suicide, after also allegedly killing his girlfriend and three of her family members while being investigated for domestic terrorism in the shooting deaths of several immigrants found in the desert. Another co-founder, Chris Simcox, was sentenced last July to nearly 20 years for child molestation.
The misconduct of corps members isn’t the main issue here, although it offers some insight into the kinds of people the group attracts. The issue is the nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment that drives it, and which the corps must believe will be advanced by Iowa’s Voter ID bill.