The man in charge of running Arizona’s elections has gone to the birthers. Secretary of State Ken Bennett now says he’s not convinced Barack Obama was really born in the United States and so he is threatening to keep the president off the ballot in November.
Bennett’s comments came in an interview late Thursday with conservative radio talk show host Mike Broomhead on Phoenix station KFYI.
Bennett said he was following the lead of the state’s eccentric Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fellow Republican who ordered an investigation into the president’s birth certificate last year and concluded the document released by the White House is a forgery. Bennett said he is now trying to get verification from state officials in Hawaii that the certificate is authentic.
In doing so, Bennett caved to a fringe group of activists and writers who believe in a conspiracy theory that just never seems to die no matter how much proof they get. Hawaiian officials have said time and again that Obama was born there in 1961, yet the theory persists.
Bennett, the state’s No. 2 elected official just below Gov. Jan Brewer (R), said his investigation isn’t personal. He said the reason he started looking into it is because he got more than 1,200 emails asking him to do so after Arpaio’s investigation came out.
“I’m not a birther. I believe the president was born in Hawaii — or at least I hope he was,” Bennett said on the show. “But my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking.”