(Pierre, SD) — A new report shows state officials defended a one-million-dollar private donation to fund the South Dakota National Guard troop deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, or CREW, — a D.C.-based ethics watchdog group — released the emails Tuesday about the decision that happened in 2021. Former SD National Guard Major General Jeffrey Marlette sent an email in a back and forth about the private donation payment to Governor Noem’s former chief of staff Aaron Scheible and Mark Miller, then Noem’s legal counsel, defending the choice to accept the money. After the administration was criticized for accepting the donation, Congress passed legislation banning the use of private donations for interstate National Guard deployments. CREW said Noem’s acceptance of a huge donation from a Tennessee resident to activate the South Dakota National Guard raised serious concerns of the influence of billionaires on elected officials, and that the Noem administration clearly knew that.