In March, Gov. Terry McAuliffe put out the welcome mat for Indiana business leaders who might want to leave because of the Hoosier state squabble over whether a religious liberty law might encourage discrimination against gays.
Now, McAuliffe is extending a similar howdy-do to Texas companies that might consider moving here because of the bizarre furor over a large U.S. military exercise planned from July to September in Texas and two other Southwestern states.
The training exercise, dubbed Operation Jade Helm 15, is expected to draw hundreds of soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and special operations forces from throughout country to Texas, Utah and part of California for simulated combat in desert conditions similar to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Controversy has erupted because the massive exercise has sparked anxiety among hard-right bloggers and talk show hosts that it’s a prelude to President Barack Obama taking over the country through armed force and martial law.
Among their concerns is that huge Wal-Mart stores in the Southwest will be seized and converted into Federal Emergency Management Agency concentration camps for U.S. citizens who oppose the coup. Other Wal-Mart stores supposedly will be supply and staging areas for internal conflict within the country.
The concerns are serious enough that Wal-Mart has issued an official denial. Even so, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has issued an order for the state guard — an armed force but not the Texas National Guard — to “monitor” the federal military exercise.
McAuliffe has told Politico.com that Abbot’s move is silly and that if any Texas military personnel or companies want to move to Virginia, they’ll be welcome.
Asked about the statements, Christina Nuckols, the governor’s deputy communications manager, says: “Gov. McAuliffe has made it a priority and is working hard every day to make sure Virginia is the best state in the nation for our veterans, active-duty military and National Guard members and their families.”
No Virginia National Guard units are involved in Operation Jade Helm 15, she adds. But it’s possible that regular duty service personnel, perhaps Navy SEALs based in Hampton Roads, could be involved.