Secretary of State Ken Bennett will not verify the birth records of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, at least not now — and possibly not ever — despite an earlier public commitment to do so.
Bennett acknowledged Thursday he has received requests from Arizona residents to perform the same kind of verification through Michigan about Romney’s birth certificate as he did through Hawaii for Barack Obama. And he said that he had, in fact, agreed to make such a check if he got a request.
But Bennett is now saying he needs something else: An allegation by an Arizona law enforcement agency that there is a question about the veracity of a candidate’s claimed birth certificate.
He said that was always a precondition of looking into Romney or anyone else. He just never disclosed that.
There has been only one such allegation, the one questioning Obama’s birth certificate by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. And Bennett said since there are no others, he feels no need to dig any further into any of Romney’s documents.
Last month, Bennett said he had received many requests to verify that Obama is a “natural born citizen” and constitutionally qualified to hold the nation’s highest office. He said he would not demand that Hawaii produce the actual birth certificate but instead would rely on a provision in that state’s law which allows an official in any other state to seek certification that a specific document does, in fact, exist.
Bennett, the state’s chief election official, said at the time he was not singling out the Democratic president for special treatment but simply responding to a constituent request. And he specifically said he would do the same thing “if somebody asked me to verify the Libertarian candidate or Mitt Romney or whoever it might end up being.”
On Thursday, Bennett said nothing has changed. He said that requirement for a law enforcement investigation to raise the issue was always a condition — albeit unstated — along with constituent requests, for seeking more information.
“They were asking because a law enforcement agency in the largest county in the state had some findings saying that they had probable cause that the birth certificate was a forgery,” he said.
And Bennett, who supports Romney’s bid to oust Obama, also said he sees the requests to check the Republican’s birth records as nothing more than politics.
“I think the only reason that people are asking about Romney’s (birth certificate) is because they’re mad that I asked about the president’s,” he said.
In March, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio charged that the birth certificate the White House posted on its web site is a fraud. He said a forensic examination of the electronic document proves that it was not simply scanned into a file but actually put together in several pieces.
Romney released a copy of his own birth certificate on Wednesday.
But Arpaio told Capitol Media Services he has had no requests to do a similar examination. And the sheriff said even if such requests were to materialize, he doubts he would take a closer look at what Romney produced.
“Am I supposed to check everybody’s birth certificate running for office?” he said.
“The reason we did this one is it’s been a controversial situation for a long, long time,” Arpaio explained, saying there were reasons to believe, even before the investigation, that Obama’s birth certificate was “suspect.”
“I’m not suspect over this one,” he said of Romney’s released document.
Bennett’s request that Hawaii verify it has Obama’s birth certificate has gained national attention, to the point where a liberal group started a tongue-in-cheeck campaign to get people to ask the secretary of state to determine if Romney is a unicorn.
“There has never been a conclusive DNA test proving that Mitt Romney is not a unicorn,” the LeftAction web site proclaims. “We have never seen him without his hair — hair that could be covering up a horn.”
Organization spokesman John Hlinko claimed there have been more than 20,000 people who have signed an online request. He said these were not forwarded to Bennett because LeftAction did not want to crash his web site.