This billionaire GOP donor is funding South Dakota's National Guard border deployment — but lives in Tennessee

This billionaire GOP donor is funding South Dakota's National Guard border deployment — but lives in Tennessee
Kristi Noem // CBS

A billionaire supporter of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is funding the state's deployment of the state's National Guard to the Texas border wall, Politico reports.

Speaking to Politico, Willis Johnson, the billionaire founder and chairman of the global automotive auction company called Copart Inc., claimed he was "trying to help out the governor and help America."

"I believe in her state and Texas," Johnson said, describing himself as a "hard-core Republican."

Johnson is also said to.have made substantial donations to Republican campaigns.

Per Politico:

"According to FEC records, he has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans in recent years, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."

Noem's office is defending Johnson's contribution. When asked to explain how a private citizen can pay for a National Guard deployment, Noem's spokesperson Ian Fury texted a statement saying, "The Governor has authority under SDCL 5-24-12 to accept a donation if she determines doing so is in the best interest of the State. The Governor has additional authority to accept donated funds for emergency management under SDCL 34-48A-36."

The donation came shortly after Noem announced her plan to deploy members of the South Dakota National Guard to Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott announced he needed assistance to combat illegal entry into the state.

"The Biden Administration has failed in the most basic duty of the federal government: keeping the American people safe," Noem said in a statement. "The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide. We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President Biden's Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve. My message to Texas is this: help is on the way."

Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and Florida are also reporting making plans to send troops to the border.

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