Some Hawaii lawmakers see a way out of the state budget hole by capitalizing on doubts about President Obama's birth certificate . . .The legislation under consideration, HB 1116, would allow the state's Department of Health to sell for $100.00 the birth records of any person who is a candidate for or elected to an office that requires them to be a U.S. citizen "either natural born or naturalized." The inclusion of the birth records of persons who are naturalized in the legislation is peculiar as the state's vital records in theory should only include the records of persons born in Hawaii. Naturalized citizens are persons born in other countries who become citizens under provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act after first becoming permanent residents of the United States and maintaining their status continuously for a minimum number of years. Critics of Hawaii's vital records law contend it permits Hawaii residents to record the births of their children in Hawaii, even in cases where the child was born outside the state. On that basis, these critics maintain that Hawaii records that might otherwise record Obama's birth there are meaningless unless an original long-form birth certificate signed by the attending physician at the hospital where Obama was born was filed with the state. Obama's 2008 campaign released a certificate of live birth issued by the state's Department of Health in 2007 but not the original long-form birth certificate like the campaign of Sen. John McCain released that showed his birth took place in Panama, where his father was stationed while serving in the U.S. Navy.
“If the people are so concerned about Barack Obama and if he was actually born in Hawaii, born in the United States, let them pay a fee of 100 bucks,” said Rep. John Mizuno, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the measure. “We can certainly use the money, and we don't need to hear their complaining anymore."
Lawmakers sponsoring the bill say they'll need to clear confidentiality hurdles since state law prohibits Department of Health disclosure of any information about a Hawaii vital record unless the requestor has a “direct and tangible interest in the record.”
"We're hoping to work with our legal department, the Attorney General's office, for an opinion to see if we can craft something which will justify that it is true, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and will have the state seal to certify that,” Mizuno said. “Something very generic but won't violate any federal or state law."
If they clear that hurdle, they say, there are big bucks in store.
"So if there's 1 million people on the mainland asking for his birth certificate, send over $100 check or money order, and we'll send you over something certifying that he was born in Hawaii. That's 1 million people -- that's $100 million to the state,” Mizuno said. “The president of the United States, the No. 1 person in our country, from Hawaii -- we need to capitalize. If we don't take advantage of it, we're out of our minds. This is a golden opportunity."
Legal scholars disagree over what the term "natural born citizen" means. It has never been addressed directly by the Supreme Court as applied to a presidential candidate. The only place the term is used in the constitution is the eligibility requirements for president and vice-president. Members of Congress are only required to be citizens; therefore, even naturalized citizens are eligible to serve in Congress. Many argue the term includes anyone born on U.S. soil. Others argue it includes only children born of U.S. citizens on U.S soil. In the case of Obama, while his mother was a U.S. citizen, his father was not. His father's Kenyan citizenship made him a dual citizen at birth. Kenya was a commonwealth of Great Britain at the time of his birth. In addition, school records in Indonesia where Obama once lived with his mother and adopted father, Lolo Soetoro, indicate he was also a citizen of that country and went by the name "Barry Soetoro." Thirdly, many legal scholars argue natural born citizens includes children born abroad to U.S. citizens, such as was the case with John McCain.
The U.S. Constitution requires a person be at least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years in order to serve as president or vice-president. In the wake of the 2008 presidential election where both major party candidates faced legal challenges from citizens as to their constitutional eligibility, state lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced legislation to require candidates to submit proof of their eligibility as a requirement for obtaining access to a state's ballot. In Indiana, Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) has introduced SB 114, which would require a presidential candidate to submit a certified copy of his birth certificate with the state's Election Division and such other evidence as may be necessary to establish the candidate's constitutional eligibility (e.g, a case where the candidate's birth certificate would show birth abroad) and attest to his eligibility. In addition, political parties would be required to certify the eligibility of their candidates nominated for president and vice-president on the certificate of nomination they file for their candidates with the state's Election Division. As was discovered in the 2008 presidential campaign, Republicans certified John McCain and Sarah Palin were constitutionally eligible to serve, while the Democrats omitted similar language on the certificate of nomination they filed for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In yet another strange twist in Hawaii, the man Gov. Neil Abercrombie nominated to become the state's public health director who oversees the state's vital records was compelled to withdraw his nomination to that post by Abercrombie. News reports suggested Dr. Neal Palafox was under investigation for medical billing irregularities and had voluntarily withdrawn his nomination, but Palafox told reporters he knew of no investigation. "Palafox has said he was blindsided by the turn of events," the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. "He has said he was not aware of a medical reimbursement investigation mentioned in a television news report or any other matter that would have jeopardized his nomination or state Senate confirmation." Palafox's attorney says the entire matter is "a complete mystery." "He had no idea why the governor asked him to resign. But he did because the governor asked him to do so," [Brook] Hart said. "He has no information at this point why there's an investigation, what the investigation is about or even a hint about what it is that somebody is claiming that he did wrong."