“It’s basically money laundering, and it’s turning the state National Guard into a mercenary force,” said Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer who is a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “She’s using troops there that are a resource and have been paid for by taxpayers that are being used for a political show by a high-powered donor because the governor thought it was a good idea.”
Private funding of state National Guard troops was common in the 19th century, when mining companies subsidized military deployments to crush labor uprisings during the Industrial Revolution. A dedicated federal funding stream for the National Guard was created with what is often known as the Dick Act of 1903, named for the Ohio congressman who was chairman of the House Militia Affairs Committee.
“In terms of a governor accepting private money, there’s no historic precedent because the Guard is funded by U.S. and state tax dollars,” said Joshua Kastenberg, a military historian who served as an Air Force judge and is now a law professor at the University of New Mexico.