A veteran Texas Republican lawmaker says he is “humiliated” and “embarrassed” by the actions of state leaders which have fueled conspiracy theorists in recent days who believe the U.S. government is planning to invade Texas this summer as part of a military training exercise called “Jade Helm 15.”
“It is embarrassing. It is humiliating,” Todd Smith, a former Republican lawmaker who served in the state’s legislature for 16 years told MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”
“And for it to be coming out of the governor’s office is what prompted me to [speak out],” says Smith. “So that people understood that there are some thinking Republicans that find great offense to what is happening and being said.”
As fears of a federal “invasion” spilled into public view following a town hall in Bastrop County, Texas last week, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the state’s guard to oversee the military exercise citing concerns over constitutional rights and the safety of his citizens.
He’s not the only Texas Republican to lend a sympathetic ear to conspiracy theorists.
Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz told Bloomberg News on Saturday that “when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many of its citizens don’t trust what it’s saying.”
Republican Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert released a statement on Tuesday that “patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned” about the exercise.
Abbott has dismissed criticisms that his actions gave credence to the conspiracy theorists, telling reporters on Tuesday that this “was frankly an overreaction to the simple fact that someone has to be in charge with gathering and disseminating information.”
Cruz says the Pentagon has assured him that the operation is a training exercise.
But Smith says the Governor’s actions in particular are tantamount to “pandering to idiots” in the fringe of the Republican Party in Texas, a situation which was growing politically dire in his view.
“What is a concern is that a tiny tiny tiny extreme faction of the state is gaining greater and greater influence in Republican primaries to the point of influencing the Governor’s office,” Smith said. “Dealing with cranks has always been a part of running for office, but it’s… the numbers and extent of it that’s changed in the last 15 years.”