Monday, January 31, 2011
Hawaii legislature feeds birther frenzy by proposing bill to release Obama birth records
by Larry Geller
Governor Neil Abercrombie committed a notable gaff last month when he proposed to release more Obama birth records only to learn, as most Hawaii residents probably know, that state law prohibits what he had in mind. This lead to a widely quoted and later retracted report by radio personality Mike Evans that fired up birther fever even further:
Evans went on to tell KQRS that he talked "with Neil's office, Neil says that he's searched everywhere using his power as governor" at the two hospitals Obama was likely born at in 1961 - Kapiolani Medical Center and Queens Medical Center - only to come up empty.
This came at a time when at least five states, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, Georgia, and Texas, are planning or have introduced legislation requiring that candidates for offices that require natural-born citizenship as a qualification would have to produce documents proving their eligibility. These laws would be constitutionally problematic, of course, but that wouldn’t stop states like Arizona, where a Republican legislator has already introduced such a bill.
Anyone who could not produce an original long-form birth certificate would be kept from the ballot. That would include Barack Obama in 2012, assuming no such document is produced.
Now some Hawaii lawmakers are fanning the birther flames with a bill that would enable the Arizona law. HB1116 includes this language:
The purpose of this Act, therefore, is to allow the department of health to disclose the birth records of officials who require United States citizenship to hold public office.
It was introduced by Reps. Mizuo, Say, Cabanilla, Manahan and Chang, ostensibly to earn a little revenue for the cash-strapped state. Each request would bring in $100 in exchange for the records.
The bill, if passed into law, would raise very little and set up a breach of Hawaii’s privacy laws and a provision of the state constitution guaranteeing privacy that would be worse than the benefit of the small change it would put into state coffers.
Even worse, the bill has already gained national publicity (see: HI Bill Would Give Anyone Obama Birth Info for Fee (New York Times, 1/27/2011). Legislators in Arizona and other states will take comfort that their proposed birther laws have the chance of support in Hawaii.
Regardless of whether it makes any progress in the House, it will likely increase, rather than reduce, the number of requests for Obama’s records. Even its failure to pass will be cited by birthers as proof that the documents they seek do not exist.
This is a bill that should never have been introduced, should not have been assigned a number, and should not be scheduled for a hearing.
I believe it has been the Obama strategy all along not comment about the birther issue. The more air time the birthers get the more reasonable President Obama looks. The Hawaii legislature should just let this issue be.