Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was the first governor to fan the flames of conspiracy theories about whether an upcoming military training program was actually a secret attempt to impose martial law.
But none of the nation’s other governors have been quite so willing to jump on the bandwagon.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) even went so far on Thursday as to say Abbott’s decision to order the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercise was “one of the dumbest things” he’d ever heard. (The military has described the exercise as standard special ops training.)
While McAuliffe’s state is not among those hosting the exercise, known as “Jade Helm 15,” seven other states are. In fact, over the course of planning the multi-state operation, the US military has named 10 states in which the training was supposed to take place. Three of those states — California, Nevada and Colorado — appear to no longer be involved.
Over the past several days, TPM and other news outlets have reached out to the governors whose states were at some point listed as locations for the training, which is scheduled to run from July 15 to Sept. 15.
Here are the responses so far:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
After conspiracy theorists suggested that Jade Helm 15 was an attempt to take over Texas and that shuttered Wal-Mart stores would serve as bases for the military coup, Abbott wrote a letter ordering the state guard to monitor the training exercises.
Despite receiving criticism for his decision, Abbott defended his position on Monday saying it was his role to serve as a “communication facilitator” between the military and concerned Texans.
Abbott also said his “non-inflammatory” letter was taken out of context.
“I frankly think that there was an overreaction to the simple fact that someone has to be in charge of gathering and disseminating information and we stepped in to play that role, which is a role to be applauded,” Abbott told the Texas Tribune.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R)
Jindal’s office did not respond to a message from TPM seeking comment.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)
Scott’s office took down a list of questions from TPM on Thursday and said it would attempt to respond.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R)
Ducey seemed to be confused when discussing his stance on Jade Helm 15.
According to AZCentral, Ducey was quick to offer a response when first asked about the military program last week.
“I believe what you’re referring to, we have been briefed on,” Ducey said, according to AZCentral. “We’re following what’s going on in Texas with great interest, and we’re going to cooperate with the federal government and federal authorities and be supportive in any way we can to protect the citizens of Arizona.”
However, Ducey’s office later said he’d confused Jade Helm 15 with another issue, according to AZCentral. His office never explained his take on the exercise to the website.
The governor’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TPM this week.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
Martinez’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TPM.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
Hickenlooper’s office told TPM on Wednesday that the governor was not commenting on the issue.
“Governor Hickenlooper has not issued any statements. Thanks for checking,” spokeswoman Kathy Green wrote.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)
Sandoval’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TPM.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R)
Bryant’s office did not respond to a request for comment from TPM.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R)
In response to the speculation about the possible ulterior motives of Jade Helm 15, Herbert dismissed the conjecture and insisted the operation was simply a “standard training exercise.”
In an email to TPM last week, a spokesman for the governor wrote:
The governor is aware of the plan, and we are working with both local and federal officials to ensure it is carried out appropriately. The military will be participating in a training exercise this summer in the western part of the United States, including Utah, to prepare for evolving threats throughout the world. We have been assured this will be a standard training exercise, much like those done throughout the rest of the country, and that the majority of the training will occur in remote areas with minimal inconvenience to the local communities.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D)
Brown’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TPM.