We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee billionaire to pay $1 million to South Dakota for Gov. Noem's dispatching of the National Guard to the southern border

An email obtained by Forum News Service on Wednesday reveals that the Willis and Reba Foundation will gift $1 million to South Dakota to foot the bill for state's Guard to patrol the southern border with Mexico.

Noem_.Czech_days.jpg
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem visits with people along the side of the North Vyborny Street while attending the Tabor Czech Days Parade on Friday in the small town in Bon Homme County. (Matt Gade / Republic)
We are part of The Trust Project.

PIERRE, S.D. — A Tennessee billionaire's charity is paying $1 million to South Dakota in return for Gov. Kristi Noem sending a few dozen National guardsmen and women to the U.S.'s southern border, says an email obtained by Forum News Service.

While some state officials stress the monetary exchange-for-deployment is not illegal, more legislators are emerging to raise questions about an in-kind use of the governor's executive powers over volunteer military personnel.

"The Governor is responding to an emergency under the Emergency Management Assistance Company," reads an email from an unnamed member of the governor's staff to certain legislators on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 30. "This is the authority the Governor is using to accept the funds."

A governor has large discretion on how and when to send the National Guard that is laid out in state statute .

In the last year, for example, Noem dispatched the National Guard to confront protesters outside Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3, prior to a speech by then-President Trump.

ADVERTISEMENT

But it's unclear if the timing of the gift to the state — made by the Willis and Reba Johnson Foundation of Franklin, Tenn., — came before or after Noem made a determination to deploy troops to the southern border.

A spokesman for Noem did not respond to a request on the sequence of events for this article. The email reporting the $1 million figure was first reported by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Furthermore, it is not yet known why the governor sent troops from the National Guard, rather than state law enforcement agents. Gov. Kim Reynolds in neighboring Iowa, for example, responded last week to a June 10 request by the governors of Arizona and Texas to send personnel by dispatching two dozen state highway patrol officers from Iowa to the southern border.

Whereas Reynolds specified the illicit drug trade — with supply from below the international border — as a reason for officers over 1,000 miles away to be involved in a border action, Noem's press release announcing the guard's deployment earlier this week blamed the crossing of "illegal aliens" into the U.S.

On Wednesday, Rep. Tony Randolph , R-Rapid City, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was still finding out information on the deployment.

Sen. Reynold Nesiba , a Sioux Falls Democrat, called for Noem to, if not cancel the mission, at least to rescind the donation.

"Our National Guardsmen and women are not professional soldiers for hire," added Nesiba.

A day earlier, Rep. Aaron Aylward , R-Harrisburg, characterized the announcement as treating the largely volunteer troop force akin to "mercenaries" in an interview with Dakota News Now .

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier this year, Aylward brought a bill to require an official declaration of war by Congress before a governor could send Guardsmen and Guardswomen overseas.

What to read next
Members Only
As part of phase II, the back nine of the 18-hole golf course will undergo major renovations and become a par-71 layout, dropping down from the existing par-72 setup.
If convicted and found in violation of his probation, Mason Buhl would face 225 years in prison and ordered to pay as much as $400,000 in fines.
Michael Uthe, high school and middle school principal, was arrested in the early morning of June 17 in Meade County after traveling on Interstate 90 east of Sturgis.
“We would be able to work longer into the 8 p.m. time frame versus right now we close at 6 p.m. We’re hoping to reopen on Sundays as well,” Jessica Pickett said of the increased hours of operation that could be provided if two part-time drivers come on board.