A man who recently served as an adviser to John McCain's rival and once helped launch the Minuteman border watch movement has been accused by his estranged wife of threatening to kill their family and any police who try to protect them.
Chris Simcox's wife, who is seeking a divorce, alleges in court documents he brandished a gun and threatened to shoot his family on at least two occasions in late 2009 — four years after he became instrumental in founding the Minuteman movement, which brought thousands of anti-illegal immigration activists to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border and report suspected illegal migrants to the border patrol.
Chris Simcox, 49, most recently worked as an adviser to U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, who hopes to unseat McCain in Arizona's Aug. 24 Republican primary.
The allegations against Simcox were first reported last week by the alternative newsweekly Phoenix New Times, and McCain's re-election campaign circulated the story to reporters.
A judge in Phoenix granted an order of protection on April 16, ordering Simcox to surrender his firearms and stay at least 200 yards away from his family.
In her petition for an order of protection, Alena Simcox, 30, alleges that she came home from shopping Nov. 29 to find her husband intoxicated. She writes that he threatened her with a gun, "repeatedly pointed it at me, saying he was going to kill me, and my kids, and the police."
Alena Simcox describes a six-hour ordeal during which she locked herself and her three children in a bedroom until he passed out at 2 a.m. Afraid for her safety, she did not call the police.
"He was waiting by the door for the police to come, with a gun pointed at me," she wrote.
Alena Simcox also described a separate incident on Aug. 22, 2009: "On our wedding anniversary, he was drinking and angry. Got a revolver gun and loaded with kids present. Then proceeded to ask me to 'shoot him.' I said 'no,' so then he said he would shoot the entire family and cops."
Neither Chris Simcox nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
The alleged threats are the latest episode in a troubled family life for Chris Simcox.
His first wife accused him of trying to molest their teenage daughter, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that has warned about extremism in the Minuteman movement.
His second wife filed an emergency motion to obtain full custody of their teenage son because it seemed Chris Simcox was undergoing a mental breakdown and growing dangerous following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the SPLC reported in 2005, based on an examination of court records in Los Angeles.
"What is most incredible of all is that Chris Simcox managed to make himself into a leader for a short period of time and was actually taken seriously," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups.
McCain's campaign has seized on Chris Simcox's work for Hayworth, a former congressman and talk-radio host who is challenging McCain from the right.
"It's deeply troubling that Congressman Hayworth would employ as his senior adviser, and use as a key campaign supporter, someone with Mr. Simcox's well-documented history of violent, abusive behavior," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. "It calls into question Congressman Hayworth's judgment."
Chris Simcox resigned as Minuteman president and announced in April 2009 that he would challenge McCain in the GOP primary. He dropped out of the race in February and threw his support to Hayworth, who was better known and has gained more traction against the four-term senator.
Hayworth spokesman Mark Sanders confirmed that Chris Simcox did some work for the campaign in the past but is no longer affiliated. He declined further comment.
Alena Simcox filed for divorce on April 19, three days after the order of protection was issued. A judge temporarily granted her full custody of the couple's two children, ages 2 and 3. She also has an 8-year-old child from a previous relationship, according to court documents.
The couple have been married for five years. Chris Simcox has requested joint custody of the couple's children.