Rep. Adam Smith pushes back against private funding for National Guard deployment

By | June 30, 2021

Rep. Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said on Wednesday that he would press Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about reports that the governor of South Dakota accepted private donations to fund the deployment of National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border.

When asked about Gov. Kristi Noem’s move during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Washington Democrat said the Guard should not be treated like a “private militia.” Smith said that while he wasn’t a fan of calling hearings because they “don’t solve problems,” he would contact Austin to see whether a hearing would be necessary.

“The one thing we’re going to do on the Armed Services Committee is we’re going to put pressure on the secretary of defense and everyone else to say, ‘This should not be happening. How do we make it stop?’” Smith said.

Noem, a Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate, used a donation from a Tennessee-based billionaire to deploy up to 50 members to the border in Texas for dealing with the migration situation there. A spokesperson for Noem said on Tuesday that the governor could accept private donations if she determined that doing so was in the best interest of South Dakota. The spokesperson, citing “security reasons,” did not say how much money was involved.

“This is unbelievably dangerous to think that rich people can start using the U.S. military to advance their objectives, independent of what the commander in chief and the secretary of defense think they ought to be doing,” Smith said on Wednesday.

Republican governors from Arkansas, Florida, Iowa and Nebraska have also promised to send border security officers to Texas.