In a clear and ironic gesture, State Senator Tom Umberg told South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem on Thursday that if she agreed to send troops, he would introduce legislation that would allow California to bid for the his State National Guard comes here to fight extremists targeting people of color.
“I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this win / win situation with you or your staff,” Umberg, D-Santa Ana, wrote in a letter he posted on Twitter. “South Dakota earns revenue while California gains additional resources to investigate white supremacists.”
The request comes following Noem’s recent announcement that she plans to use funds from a private GOP donor to send up to 50 South Dakota National Guard soldiers to the U.S. border with the Mexico to Texas.
“I think this is a political coup by the governor of South Dakota,” Umberg told the Register. “But if she really wants to lend their National Guard, then we should take her at her word and participate in the tender.”
Noem joins a growing list of Republican governors pledging to send law enforcement officers to Texas as the GOP escalates a political fight with President Joe Biden over border security. The issue has drawn a host of prominent GOP figures: Former President Donald Trump went to the border on Wednesday, and Republican governors of Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska and Iowa have all pledged to send law enforcement officers for border security.
Democrats have called all of the GOP’s border efforts “political theater.” But Noem’s unique plan for pay troops with private donor funds has drawn particular criticism, with many experts questioning its legality and some legal scholars claiming it sets a dangerous precedent of allowing “soldiers to hire” to the highest bidder.
Umberg, retired army colonel and prosecutor, tweeted Thursday: “Hey @KristiNoem, if the @SDArmyNG is up for grabs, we have ideas in California! “
New data shows hate crimes against Asian Americans increased 107% in California in 2020, Umberg noted. As local law enforcement ‘stretched out’ and extremists became more savvy, he wrote: ‘The highly trained and skilled men and women of the South Dakota National Guard would be excellent warriors against extremism in California. ”
Umberg has dismissed whether his letter adds to the political theater, insisting that he is ready to introduce legislation if Noem can “demonstrate that it is both feasible and legal to be able to hire the National Guard.” .
When asked if his bill would call for allowing California to bid on a state’s National Guard, Umberg said he didn’t think another governor would be open to such a plan.
While Umberg spoke in favor of police reform, he said the move would not add to the militarization of law enforcement, as his proposal would not result in troops from the National Guard interact with citizens. Instead, he said he would use the troops to help with intelligence gathering and analysis regarding extremist groups, in accordance with another bill he introduced in this area earlier in the l ‘year.
Umberg sent the letter to Noem on Thursday morning and had not heard back by afternoon, saying he would “start to hold my breath”.
Noem’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Umberg’s proposal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.