Last week, Arizona’s Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, announced that, while he isn’t a birther, he might take the sitting President’s name off the ballot in Arizona if the State of Hawaii can’t prove that Barack Hussein Obama II was in fact, born in Hawaii, despite the fact that Hawaii has already said he was born in Hawaii and the fact that Obama has already shown us his birth certificate.
Within the last few hours, Bennett backed off the threat, saying,
“If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent,” Bennett said in an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR. “He’ll be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has.”
Bennett, in addition to being the Secretary of State and in charge of overseeing elections, is the Arizona co-chair of the Romney campaign. In 2008, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was Romney’s honorary chair in Arizona.
Bennett claims that he’s made repeated attempts to get the information from Hawaii. He hasn’t had much luck. Here’s why; Hawaii is sick of it. They receive about 50 new requests every single month and they are turning the tables on him. (from emails obtained from Talking Points Memo):
“Hello Jill. I just left you a brief voice mail message,” Arizona Deputy Secretary of State Jim Drake wrote in an email to a Hawaii attorney on May 1. “I am wondering whether you can give me a ballpark timeframe on our request. As you know, the closer we get to November, the more my phone rings. I believe that having Hawaii’s response on hand might help to quell the inquiries!”
Deputy Attorney General Jill Nagamine’s response? “We need more information to substantiate that you are eligible to receive verification.”
TPM has the entire email exchange, and I’d recommend reading it. Despite backing off the threat, Bennett is saying he will keep pestering Hawaii.
In related news, Sheriff Birther, Joe Arpaio, is now using taxpayer funds to investigate the birth certificate, by sending a deputy to Hawaii.
The Romney campaign hasn’t publicly “gone birther,” yet, but maybe they have. Maybe Arizona is being used as a trial balloon. It is legal for a Secretary of State to take a sitting President off of a state ballot. Elections are run by states and only by states. That’s why it was so unprecedented for the Supreme Court to step in to Florida’s election in 2000. That’s why they ruled that it was a one time deal. It is also perfectly legal for the Secretary of State, the person in charge of ballot counts as well as election procedures, be in charge of a campaign, but it’s certainly not ethical. In 2000 and in 2004, a single state could have been the difference between a George W. Bush win and a George W. Bush loss. In both cases, the person responsible for vote counting was part of the Bush campaign.
If you look at this site, it’s quite eye-opening to see how many Secretaries of State, Attorneys General and State Auditors are part of Romney’s campaign. At this point, the Obama campaign has just one “Special Assistant to the Secretary of State,” and that is in Maryland.