The government is picking up the tab for North Dakota National Guard heading south, so why is some Tennessee fat cat paying a million bucks to deploy the South Dakota Guard to the border? Something is odd here...even for mildly maverick SD Governor Kristi Noem.  But lets start with the North Dakota National Guard deployment announced today.

The Associated Press is reporting that over 120 soldiers from the 957th Engineer company are being deployed to the U.S./Mexico border sometime this fall.  The Bismarck based National Guard unit's deployment will be funded by the federal government.  Which is generally how deployments are funded.  By "generally", it's more like "always"!    Yahoo reports this from last week...

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Tuesday that she was deploying 50 members of the National Guard to Texas to help with what she called a “national security crisis” on the southern border.

Noem is one of a number of Republican governors who recently pledged to send troops to the border, but a line in her announcement raised eyebrows: “The deployment will be paid for by a private donation.”

This method of funding is, at the very least, extremely rare. A spokesperson for the National Guard Bureau told Yahoo News they were not aware of any states that have ever claimed to have used private donations to fund a National Guard deployment, but that it was possible it had happened previously.

North Dakota's 125 soldiers found their assignment through more conventional means.  The Department of the Army made the request through the National Guard Bureau. North Dakota's Governor Doug Burgum, had already joined a growing list of Republican governors that have offered troops for border security.  Made up around 375 soldiers,  the 957th Engineer Company has served in both Iraq (2003) and Kosovo (2009) campaigns. It's not certain how long the ND troops will be deployed.

So now back to the rent-a-cop scenario that South Dakota seems to have stepped in...

 The money for the deployment is coming from Willis Johnson, a Tennessee billionaire and major GOP donor. It’s unknown how much Johnson, who founded the vehicle auctioning company Copart, gave to South Dakota, but he said he did so to help protect America.

So were Gov. Noem and donor Johnson just having a chit-chat about what to do about immigration?  Which one had the "light bulb moment" and suggested a major political donor could cough up a million dollars to promote what some may see as politically motivated grandstanding?

Either way, y'all come home safely.

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