The Tennessee auto-scrap billionaire who's funding South Dakota's deployment of National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border claims he's doing so because immigrants are "killing and raping people" and spreading COVID-19, according to an interview with Talking Points Memo.
Willis Johnson, who contributed $350,000 to Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign, suggested that President Joe Biden's policies are compelling people to cross the border in search of "free money."
"People don't respect nothing unless they work for it," Johnson said. "You've gotta work for what you got, and you've gotta respect what other people has — but not shooting and killing and lying and raping and doing other kinds of stuff because they've got free money. It's just chaos with this President, and he don't care."
Johnson, a Vietnam veteran who founded the auto-salvage company Copart and is now worth $2.2 billion, according to Forbes, claimed Biden "would rather help other countries than help America." He added that he feels "sorry for the Mexicans," but believes immigrants should go through "proper channels."
"Everybody is tied down from COVID-19 but they let them come over with no shots, no nothing, no coverings over their face," Johnson said. "They ship them out to all the states, like I'm in Tennessee, they ship them out to Tennessee and they don't ask the governor. They just spread 'em everywhere and they don't care about COVID-19."
Critics have raised questions about the legality of Johnson's donation through the Willis and Reba Johnson Fund, given that IRS rules prohibit charities from participating directly in politics. Others have pointed out that a private donor is effectively buying U.S. military personnel to use as his own mercenary troops.
Johnson's donation of an undisclosed amount to South Dakota's Emergency and Disaster Fund will bankroll the deployment of up to 50 national guard members to the border for as long as two months, according to reports.
Johnson said he reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem after she said she wanted to join other states in responding to a request earlier this month from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey for interstate assistance at the border. Abbott and Ducey's request warned of "cartels" and "convicted criminals" bringing "deadly fentanyl" and "human-trafficking victims."
Johnson also said he will support Trump if he runs for president again in 2024, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is also sending members of his state's guard to the border — and Noem.
"If he (Trump) decides not to run, it would be one of these other two," Johnson told the Daily Beast.