Rep. Ryan Cwach

Rep. Ryan Cwach

District 18 Rep. Ryan Cwach said he believes Gov. Kristi Noem’s plan to deploy 50 South Dakota National Guardsmen to the Texas border using privately donated funds is about immigration politics when what is needed is an immigration solution.

“The National Guard represents all of us and should be funded by state dollars,” Cwach told the Press & Dakotan. “It should not be funded by the whims of some private person in Tennessee who has a political agenda.”

The proposed deployment, announced earlier this week by Noem’s office, has drawn national attention, and both praise and condemnation.

Several state Democrats, including Cwach, voiced their opposition to Noem’s plan in a letter to the governor Wednesday. In the letter, the lawmakers called the privately funded deployment a misuse of the National Guard for a mercenary assignment.

The letter added, “Not only does it raise ethical questions, but privatized deployments set dangerous precedent for further political use of our National Guard. We ask that you cancel the deployment immediately and return the funds to the donor.”

The letter also said that it is “imperative” that Noem issue an apology to South Dakota’s National Guard.

The private donor has been identified as Tennessee-based Willis and Reba Johnson Foundation. Willis Johnson reportedly does not approve of how the White House is handling the border situation.

“What’s been reported so far is that Johnson was looking for a way to get more personnel down to the border,” Cwach said. “So he called up the governor, and said, ‘I’ll give you $1 million if you send National Guardsmen down there,’ and she said she would do that.”

That is where Cwach says his issue is with Noem’s actions.

“We have a governor who has the authority to direct the National Guard. That is a decision reserved to her,” he said. “But money and the appropriation of it is supposed to be handled by the Legislature.”

He also noted that the Legislature is elected every two years by the people. That body is empowered to make military appropriations.

“That includes having a contingency for emergency situations,” the Yankton lawmaker said. “But here, instead of going through the normal appropriations process by democratically elected representatives, Gov. Noem accepted private money from an out-of-state foundation to fund a National Guard mission that was never actually appropriated.”

Had Noem chosen the normal process for such decisions, Cwach said he does not know what the outcome would have been.

“The issue was never discussed in the Legislature,” he said. “So, if the Legislature would have appropriated money to send 50 National Guardsmen to the Mexico border, we’ll never know.”

The Legislature was not given the opportunity to have a public debate about the merits of Noem’s plan, he said.

“There is a need for real border and immigration reform, and sending 50 National Guardsmen down there is not going to solve that problem,” Cwach said. “What’s going to solve that problem is when Democrats and Republicans stop playing politics on the issue and actually start working together.”

(4) comments


So why are you playing politics on the issue? Live what you preach or quit preaching. There is a need on the boarder and mutual aide amongst the various State National Guards is essential for National Security. I am sure at some time South Dakota may need the assistance of Guard units from other states. If someone steps up to lessen the burden on taxpayers by providing funding, do we really want to say ...No thanks, we'll let our taxpayers suffer the cost or we will just choose to not help another State?


“Immigration solution is needed”… he says…you are watching the Democrat solution in action…this guy is a light weight…typical Democrat…


Where does the "Snow Queen" Governor get the authority to turn the South Dakota National Guard [SDNG] into the South Dakota [Hessian] National Guard [SD[H]NG? Is she going to go with the SDNG when they go to Tx, just as Trump when with the crowd to the Capital like he said? Also, who will take care of the SDNG families while there men are in TX, not working their jobs and bringing in income for their familes..? and these men from their children for God knows how long..the Snow Queen doesn't say as she lives in Pierre or flies around the country at SD taxpayers expense. What if a member of the SDNG is killed or injured while in Tx {for how long} who pays for the expense and loss of life...the Snow Queen?? She'll just get on her donkey and ride toward the West,, looking for another $B donor to sell the SDNG to. Does anyone recall or remember the Hessians or as they were called...Mercenaries (leased out to the highest bidder, to fight, kill and die in a cause that is not their own.) BTY, the guy in Tennessee, who is giving the Snow Queen the $1M,,,why not the Tennessee NG? They wanted $3.5M for 50 TNG troops.. to go to TX !!


Wow I am really impresses at how much B.S. RDNEDVED can spew. A modern day manure spreader. Are you implying that National Guard members are not paid while on missions? Then explain why people would stay in the National Guard? Please apologize for suggesting that the National Guard are mercenaries. They deserve batter! You can crawl back under your rock now.

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