Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio says that volunteer investigators working for him have concluded that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is not legitimate.
The Maricopa County sheriff made his remarks Tuesday at a news conference, saying: "At the very least, I can tell you this, based on all of the evidence presented and investigated, I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic."
He added: "My investigators believe that the long-form birth certificate was manufactured electronically and that it did not originate in a paper format as claimed by the White House."
The latest pronouncements are a return to the issue for Arpaio, who is seeking re-election in November. Further, they come as the federal government is scheduled to begin Thursday its civil trial against Arpaio, accused of racially profiling Latinos.
That suit is part of a chain of federal civil rights litigation against Arpaio, who's made a career out of championing conservative issues, such as tough stands on law and order, illegal immigration and, of late, the so-called birther issue.
Obama has said - often and loudly - that he was born in Hawaii, but no number of statements, court suits or official denials have prevented the claim that he was born in a foreign country from resurfacing in the political arena.
Being a natural-born citizen is one of the constitutional requirements of the office of president and vice president. So repeatedly re-litigating the birther issue is still red meat for the more conservative elements of the Republican Party and those on the right flank outside the GOP, all of whom question Obama's legitimacy to serve.
Arpaio said he was "shocked" by his group's findings. "My original intent was to clear the president of the United States," said the sheriff, known more for trying to bury Obama than for praising him.
The Obama campaign has stopped commenting on birther stories, hoping to finally put the issue to eternal rest. Once again, however, Hawaii officials insisted that Obama was indeed born on the islands.
"President Obama was born in Honolulu, and his birth certificate is valid," Joshua A. Wisch, a special assistant to Hawaii's attorney general, said in a statement. "Regarding the latest allegations from a sheriff in Arizona, they are untrue, misinformed, and misconstrue Hawaii law."
But sometimes in politics, the only thing to do with a dead horse is to beat it.
)2012 Los Angeles Times
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