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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

The scion of America's most notorious reality TV family on Monday brought the so-called "chemtrail" conspiracy theory out of the margins and into the bright lights of pop culture.

Kylie Jenner, the youngest daughter of the family featured on the E! network's "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," tweeted an image of contrails from airplanes criss-crossing the sky:

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David W. Smith, the leader of the Orange County, Texas-based Golden Triangle Militia, wants people to know he is no white supremacist or conspiracy theorist.

“If you say you’re part of a militia, people start cowering with fear,” he told TPM in a phone interview last week. “They start calling you a white supremacist or part of the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] when it’s open for every single resident that lives in the county.”

Smith has been on a quest to persuade the Orange County Commissioners Court to recognize his group as the county reserve militia for over a year and a half. Last week, commissioners were about to vote on a resolution recognizing the Golden Triangle Militia—which would have been a first in the Lone Star State—when one commissioner expressed reservations about the group’s vetting process and requested more information, according to local TV station KBMT. The vote was tabled.

Smith expressed frustration, saying he believes his group already is the county’s reserve militia by default.

“The Golden Triangle Militia is a reserve militia according to that government code,” Smith told TPM. “That’s what I’m trying to do there, because the law says that the reserve militia is supposed to already exist but it’s never been officially organized according to the law in the state of Texas since it’s been on the statutes since 1987. Nobody’s ever done it.”

TPM spoke with Smith, who said he’s a U.S. Air Force and Texas Army National Guard veteran, at length about his effort to get his group recognized as the reserve militia for Orange County. Smith is a former phlebotomist who now runs a business building monolithic domes. He tried to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) last year as an independent and casually name-drops Texas politicians, including former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), whom he says he’s spoken to about his militia movement. He also offered his take on those "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theories that have been catching fire in the state and elsewhere.

Below is a transcript of the conversation which has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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