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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks to attendees at the North Carolina GOP convention on June 5 in Greenville, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits / Getty Images

A Tennessee billionaire and high-dollar Republican donor is funding the deployment of South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S. Mexico border.

Driving the news: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who's gaining attention as a possible 2024 presidential contender, made a splash on Tuesday with an announcement that she was deploying an unspecified number of National Guard troops to the border in Texas. A news release said the deployment "will be paid for by a private donation."

  • Noem spokesperson Ian Fury told Axios the funds are coming from a foundation run by Willis Johnson, founder of automotive salvage and auction company Copart.
  • Fury did not specify the size of the donation, which he said "was made directly to the state of South Dakota." Fury said that, "Governor Noem welcomes any such donations to help alleviate the cost to South Dakota taxpayers."
  • Johnson's connection was reported first by Insider.

Neither Johnson nor his charitable group, Willis and Reba Johnson's Foundation, could immediately be reached for comment.

  • The foundation had net assets of nearly $29 million at the end of 2018, the most recent filing period for which annual tax records are publicly available.

Between the lines: The Oklahoma-born Johnson is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, per Forbes.

  • He's used that fortune to bankroll a number of high-profile political campaigns, including former President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

Go deeper

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback if they're fired

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: The Republican governor's remarks on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise ... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senators grill top Pentagon leaders over Biden's Afghanistan exit

Photo: Carolone Brehman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, are testifying before Congress for the first time since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The latest: Austin said in his opening statement that military leaders began planning for a non-combatant evacuation of Kabul as early as the spring, and that this is the only reason U.S. troops were able to start the operation so quickly when the Taliban captured the city. "Was it perfect? Of course not," Austin acknowledged.

Congress must raise the debt limit by Oct. 18, Yellen warns

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a press conference at the Capitol on Sept. 23. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter Tuesday that the United States will likely begin to default on its loans shortly after Oct. 18 if Congress fails to raise or suspend the debt ceiling by then.

Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its financial obligations, and Yellen has previously warned that doing so would cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets.