Critics blast Arpaio's "birther" findings, others distance themselves

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PHOENIX -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he believes President Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fake, but many are calling his investigation into the matter ridiculous.

State Democrats and Arpaio's political opponents were quick to accuse the Sheriff of wasting taxpayer money and causing a distraction.

"There are crimes that are going on in our community that require attention and require resources, this is not one of them," said Paul Penzone, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Arpaio in November.

"It's just a whole new level of embarrassment," said Democratic State Rep. Ruben Gallego.

At least one Republican also criticized Arpaio for reigniting the "birther" debate.

"The joke's really on the taxpayers and the people who keep putting this guy into office," said Grant Woods, a former Arizona Attorney General.  "But once again this is an embarrassment to this country coming out of Arizona."

But many of the state's most powerful Republicans seemed to distance themselves from the issue altogether.

3TV reached out to both Senators John McCain (R) Arizona and Jon Kyl (R) Arizona, as well as at least six U.S. Representatives from Arizona, but none of them wanted to comment on the MCSO "birther" findings.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who earlier this year injected himself into the birther debate by demanding Hawaiian officials verify the President's birth certificate, was unavailable to respond to Arpaio's findings.

In May, Bennett told 3TV he opened his investigation after getting inquiries from more than one thousand constituents and because of "findings" Arpaio initially released in March.

"I simply followed a procedure allowed under Hawaii state law to verify something after a law enforcement agency in my state declared their findings," Bennett said on May 22.

On Tuesday, Bennett's spokesman, Matt Roberts, declined 3TV's request for a statement and said only that Bennett was "out of town, unavailable and does not have any plans to take action."

As for Governor Jan Brewer, in 2011 she told CNN the "birther" issue is "just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good."

Her spokesman, Matt Benson, said her position on the issue has not changed.

Tuesday evening, officials from Hawaii responded to Arpaio's allegations that their lax laws on birth certificates could pose a national security threat, saying the allegations "are untrue, misinformed, and misconstrue Hawaii law."

Joshua A. Wisch, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Hawaii released this statement:

The State of Hawaii has repeatedly confirmed the indisputable evidence of President Obama’s birth in Hawaii.  An exhaustive accounting of this is provided on the State Department of Health (DOH) website (  When this issue last arose in May, the Washington Post noted that “the Hawaii Department of Health has released both the short and long forms of the president’s birth certificate; and that all this information, along with clear-as-a-bell explanations, is available to the public online.” (

President Obama was born in Honolulu, and his birth certificate is valid.

Regarding the latest allegations from a sheriff in Arizona, they are untrue, misinformed, and misconstrue Hawaii law. The purpose of section 338-17.8, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), is to accommodate foreign-born individuals whose parents were residents of Hawaii but were temporarily outside of this state due to employment or military service. Similar to section 338-20.5, HRS, which provides for a certificate of foreign birth, anyone who receives a birth certificate under this section would have noted on their birth certificate the physical location of their actual birth. It does not confer citizenship, which is, of course, a power of the federal government.

We also note that section 338-17.8 was not passed until 1982, so it cannot apply to President Obama, who was born at the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu in 1961, as is reflected on his certificate of live birth, a copy of which can be viewed on the White House website, a link to which is provided on DOH’s website.

Vital records in Hawaii have some of the highest levels of privacy protection in the nation.  Not only are Hawaii’s vital records some of the best managed, but they also have some of the strongest restrictions on access to prevent identity theft and fraud.

Joshua A. Wisch
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
State of Hawaii
Dept. of the Attorney General
425 Queen Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813