Kristi Noem Setting ‘Bad Precedent’ With National Guard Donation
Arkansas’ Republican governor pointedly criticized South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to accept political donations to pay for the deployment of National Guard troops to the border, saying Sunday that the move set a “bad precedent” moving forward.
Noem, who is currently testing the waters for a potential 2024 GOP presidential run, sparked backlash last week when she announced she was sending 50 of her state’s National Guard troops to the nation’s southern border. Shortly after the announcement, junk-car billionaire and GOP donor Willis Johnson confirmed to the Daily Beast that he paid for the deployment through his private foundation.
The pro-Trump South Dakota governor, meanwhile, insisted that the $1 million donation by Johnson came as a “surprise” but didn’t appear to have any issues with turning the state’s troops into solider-for-hire, calling the transaction a “wonderful” happenstance.
Interviewing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s State of the Union, anchor Dana Bash pressed the conservative Republican on his thoughts about Noem accepting private funds to pay for a politically motivated military deployment.
“Would you use a political donation to send your troops to the border?” Bash wondered aloud.
“Not for this purpose,” Hutchinson replied. “This is a state function. It is something that we respond to other states in terms of disaster.” The governor continued: “I would consider it a bad precedent to have it privately funded. Now, whenever you are looking at supplemental pay for some state employees, we use private foundation money, so it is not an across-the-board rule against that.”
Hutchinson went on to say that even though some state employees may get paid from private funds for certain tasks and events, he felt “in this instance” it was “very appropriate” that the state’s National Guard troops only be paid from the state’s budget.
In recent months, the Arkansas governor has attempted to distance himself from the MAGA-boosting wing of his party, declaring after the Jan. 6 insurrection that he would not support Donald Trump if he ran for president again in 2024.