Arizona official says satisfied Obama U.S.-born
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona's secretary of state said on Wednesday he has received information from state officials in Hawaii that verifies Barack Obama's birth records, satisfying criteria to put the president on the November ballot in the state.
Ken Bennett, who in addition to his secretary of state duties serves as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign co-chairman in Arizona, made a request to authorities in Hawaii on March 30 about Obama's birth records on behalf of more than 4,000 constituents, his office said.
Bennett said in a statement that he received verification on Tuesday of Obama's birth from the officials in Hawaii in lieu of a certified birth certificate.
"Late yesterday, our office received the 'verification in-lieu of certified copy' from officials within the Hawaii Department of Health that we requested in March," Bennett said.
"They have officially confirmed that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for the President matches the original record in their files. ... I consider the matter closed," he said.
Most Republican critics of Obama have given up pushing discredited, long-running allegations that he was not born in the United States, as required by the U.S. Constitution to become president. Obama, a Democrat, is seeking re-election on November 6. Romney is the presumptive Republican challenger.
NOTHING WRONG WITH VERIFYING
In a local radio interview on Tuesday, Bennett apologized to anyone who thought he had disgraced Arizona by thrusting it back into the spotlight over claims by so-called birthers, who question whether Obama was born in the United States.
"If I embarrassed the state, I apologize," he told KTAR radio. "I don't see anything wrong with verifying something so that as many Arizonans as possible have confidence that the people that appear on the ballot are entitled to be there."
Bennett said last week that he did not buy into the "birther belief" but Democrats accused him of sacrificing common sense to secure "cheap political points," and said that Arizona deserved better.
The White House has denied repeated claims that Obama was not born in the United States. Last year, Obama released a longer version of his birth certificate to try to put to rest speculation that he was not born in the country.
In March, an Arizona sheriff declared Obama's birth certificate a forgery following an investigation by a "volunteer posse," or group of untrained citizens, acting at the request of conservative Tea Party activists in the Phoenix area.
Not content with Bennett's probe, the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said on Wednesday that an investigator with this volunteer posse and a deputy detective had been sent to Hawaii in recent days to carry out their own investigation.
The U.S. Justice Department filed suit against Arpaio on May 10, accusing him of civil rights violations and saying he and his office intentionally engaged in racial profiling and unlawful arrest of Latinos in violation of their constitutional rights. Arpaio vowed to fight the suit.
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