The public deserves transparency regarding the “private donation” South Dakota governor Kristi Noem used to deploy up to 50 National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border. The funds came from Willis Johnson, a billionaire GOP donor from Tennessee. Noem’s acceptance of the donation is alarming and raises serious questions of undue influence from private donors on national security matters.
CREW requests all records relating to the deployment of the South Dakota National Guard to the southern US border, including records relating to the “private donation.”
Experts say the donation “sets a troubling precedent in which a wealthy patron is effectively commandeering US military might to address private political motivations.” Noem’s acceptance of this donation instead of using taxpayer money creates a lack of accountability and oversight, undermining a basic principle of our democracy.
Wealthy donors are frequently given privileged access and influence, but influencing the deployment of the National Guard is a new level of questionable donor perks. The requested records may shed light on the motives behind Johnson’s donation, as well as why Noem accepted it and whether the ethical implications were considered.