*Lawmakers in Hawaii are trying to come up with a legal way to ignore repeated requests from “birthers,” the nickname given to people who continue to ask for proof that President Barack Obama was born there.
The state House Judiciary Committee heard a bill Tuesday permitting government officials to simply ignore people who send e-mail after e-mail requesting Obama’s birth certificate. “Birthers” claim he was actually born outside the United States, and therefore doesn’t meet a constitutional requirement for being president.
Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued statements last year and in October 2008 saying that she’s seen vital records that prove Obama is a natural-born American citizen. But the state still gets between 10 and 20 e-mails seeking verification of Obama’s birth each week, most of them from outside Hawaii, said Lorrin Kim, chief of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development.
“Sometimes we may be dealing with a cohort of people who believe lack of evidence is evidence of a conspiracy,” Kim told the Associated Press Tuesday.
A few of these requesters continue to pepper the Health Department with the same letters seeking the same information, even after they’re told state law bars release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest. Responding wastes time and money, Kim said.
Both Fukino and the state registrar of vital statistics have verified that the Health Department holds Obama’s original birth certificate. [View a copy below.]
If the measure to ignore the repeated “birther” requests passes, the state Office of Information Practices could declare an individual a “vexatious requester” and restrict rights to government records for two years. While nobody at the hearing questioned the fact that the president was born in Hawaii, some lawmakers expressed concern over the practice of curbing the rights of citizens in any way.
“Do we really want to be known internationally as the Legislature that blocked any inquiries into where President Obama was born?” asked Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-Kaneohe-Kailua. “When people want to get more information, the way to fuel that fire is to say, ‘We’re now going to draw down a veil of secrecy.'”
Attorney Peter Fritz asked why the state would pass a law punishing repetitive requests for open records. Instead, the state could simply say it would only answer each person’s question once.
The committee will schedule a vote on the measure, said Chairman Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-Waipahu-Waikele.
Below: Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate