GOP Lawmaker Stokes ‘Birther’ Drama

Mar 20, 2012 5:21pm

Rep. Cliff Stearns, a senior Republican investigating the White House’s Solyndra energy loan guarantee, told reporters today that he is still, despite all evidence to the contrary, not convinced that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is valid.

“I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence,” Stearns, R-Fla., said at the Capitol today, just weeks after he waded back into the debate during a town hall meeting with constituents last month.

In April 2011, the White House released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate to the public, showing that he was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen, but skeptics from the so-called “birther” movement have continued to question his eligibility for the presidency.

When Stearns met with his constituents on February 25 in Belleview, Fla., one man insisted that the president was not born in the United States and should be impeached. Stearns then asked the audience, “Is it legitimate?” – drawing the score of the White House.

Last week Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director, called into question the legitimacy of Stearns’ Solyndra investigation into the Energy Department’s $535 million loan guarantee to the now bankrupt energy company, considering the absurdity of his concerns over whether the president is a natural born citizen. Stearns is the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

“One of the GOP members leading the Solyndra investigation is a birther, which raises all sorts of questions,” @pfeiffer44 tweeted. But last week, Stearns’ spokesman Paul Flusche told ABC News the story was “old news” and he had no further no comment on the issue.

But that did not stop Stearns from weighing in again today.

Asked if he thinks the president’s birth certificate is authentic, Stearns suggested the issue is not settled for him personally yet, as first reported by the Hill and Roll Call. Before coming to a conclusion, Stearns says he is awaiting the results of another independent investigation by Maricopa County [Ariz.] Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who claims he has proof the birth certificate is a “computer-generated forgery.”

“We are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear [an outcome],” Stearns said. “Some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.”

Flusche did not respond to an ABC News request seeking an explanation of the Florida Republican’s latest comments.

The president’s father’s birthplace in Kenya was the basis of unfounded claims that he was born in Kenya, not the U.S. The Constitution stipulates only natural born citizens are eligible for the presidency.

Among the documents distributed last year by the White House were the president’s “long form” birth certificate and correspondence between the White House counsel and the state of Hawaii. Obama’s personal attorney, Judith Corley, flew to Hawaii to pick up the original certified copies and carry them back to the White House. The certificate of live birth includes the original, handwritten signatures of Obama’s mother Ann Dunham Obama, the attending doctor, and the local registrar. The verified document also reveals the location of Obama’s birth to be Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

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