Billionaire Copart Founder Willis Johnson Is Privately Funding The South Dakota National Guard Deployment To U.S.-Mexico Border: Report


Illustration for article titled Billionaire Copart Founder Willis Johnson Is Privately Funding The South Dakota National Guard Deployment To U.S.-Mexico Border: Report

Image: Copart

Oh boy. I’m not sure how we got to the point where a private Tennessean citizen is paying to deploy a state’s National Guard to another state against would-be refugees from other countries, or how such action is even legal, but here we are. We’re going to go through it step by step together to see if we understand what the heck is happening. Let’s give it a shot.  

Last Wednesday Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called upon the federal government to declare a national state of emergency to provide funding for increased presence at the southern border. The state deployed 250 National Guardsmen and paid $25 million for the deployment from its own budget. The Governor was later backed up by Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, calling for federal aid.

After no national action was taken, Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent out a joint letter to the 48 other governors asking for law enforcement assistance. Both Republican governors claim that migrant interactions have reached “a 20-year high” and have described the situation as an “open border disaster”. Border Patrol statistics indicate that the agency had encountered 180,034 migrants during the month of May. However, some 62 percent of those were turned away due to pandemic restrictions. The governors seem to equate an increased number of migrants seeking entry to cartels, and drugs smugglers, and human traffickers” despite offering no supporting proof that such activities have increased.

On Monday South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has been tipped for a presidential run in 2024, issued a statement that her state would be sending fifty guardsmen to the southern border. Florida and Iowa also committed to sending state police to Texas and Arizona, but only South Dakota deployed the National Guard. Unlike Florida and Iowa, however, Noem’s announcement made it clear that the deployment would be “paid for by a private donation.”

Noem’s communications director, Ian Fury, told Business Insider that the private donation came directly from Willis and Reba Johnson’s foundation. While Fury did not give any indication of the size of the donation, he did say that it was “made directly to the state of South Dakota,” and “Governor Noem welcomes any such donations to help alleviate the cost to South Dakota taxpayers.”

Oklahoma-born Johnson is said to be worth around 2.2 billion dollars, having founded junkyard part company Copart in 1982 and co-founded now-defunct home chore app Takl. Johnson has long been a supporter of Republican causes, donating millions to various political campaigns, including a sizeable contribution to the Trump Victory PAC. Wealthy automotive enthusiasts can’t be trusted.

Are we any closer to understanding why or how a private citizen from Tennessee would “donate” money to a state’s budget in order to deploy armed forces against refugees yet? I’m not sure we are. In any case, this seems like a pretty blatant move to bolster Noem’s “conservative” Fox News type creds and push her toward a 2024 Trump-esque campaign. Get ready to hear her awful opinions a lot more frequently and a lot more loudly in the coming years.



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