WASHINGTON – Lamar Outdoor, one of the largest providers of billboard space in America, has become the second major company to reject an advertising campaign raising questions about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office.
Lamar joins CBS, the No. 1 outdoor advertising company, in prohibiting its salesmen nationwide from accepting leases of billboards for a campaign that asks the simple question, “Where’s the birth certificate?”
“We’re just not going to accept that copy,” Lamar spokesman Hal Kilshaw told WND. “We think it’s a settled matter. We think it’s misleading to indicate there’s any question about the president’s birth certificate. We looked at it and we made the call.”
Kilshaw said he read “independent media reports” and unnamed “newspaper articles” to make his decision.
The billboard campaign is the brainchild of Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, who believes it is essential to force Obama to produce hard evidence that he is, indeed, a “natural born citizen” as the Constitution requires. He has called upon Americans to donate money to the campaign, which has, thus far, raised about $75,000 for the cause.
“WND’s reporters have investigated this issue more extensively than the rest of the media combined – sending senior staff writer Jerome Corsi to Hawaii and Kenya in search of evidence,” said Farah. “We have commissioned private investigators in Honolulu. There is simply no persuasive evidence to affirm Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth. There is no hospital on the island that will confirm the first black president of the United States was born there. It’s all conjecture. And no controlling legal authority in this country has ever asked Obama to provide the proof.”
Kilshaw did say Lamar would re-evaluate the issue if it could be persuaded the issue is legitimate.
“I want Americans to understand that this billboard campaign will be successful with or without CBS and Lamar,” said Farah. “There are still millions of billboards available through other companies eager to take this business. The only barrier to success is money. And I am as determined as ever to keep purchasing billboard space as our budget allows.”
The latest billboard to go up as part of the campaign is in Buena Park, Calif., on Interstate 5, the Santa Ana Freeway between Los Angeles and Anaheim, a heavily trafficked corridor reaching hundreds of thousands of commuters every week.
“Where’s The Birth Certificate” billboard near Buena Park, Calif.
Farah said the sensitivity by large public corporations like CBS and Lamar demonstrates how important this politically charged issue is to the future of the country.
“I never fully realized how dangerous it is that the media in this country are so afraid of government power,” he said. “How are Americans supposed to become aware of controversial issues with this kind of heavy-handed self-censorship in place throughout corporate America? That is the reality of what we face, and the reaction to this campaign should illustrates it better than anything else I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Founded in 1902, Lamar currently operates over 150 outdoor advertising companies in more than 40 states and Puerto Rico, according to company promotions. Lamar has over 70 transit franchises that reach driving audiences across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico through billboards, digital billboards, bus shelters, benches and buses. Lamar is also the nation’s leader in the highway logo sign business, with operations in 19 states and the province of Ontario, Canada.
The company went public in 1996. In 2005, Lamar generated revenues of more than $1 billion for the first time. But profits have been slipping of late.
Lamar reported net revenues of $247.2 million for the first quarter of 2009 versus $282.8 million for the first quarter of 2008, a 12.6 percent decrease. Operating income for the first quarter of 2009 was $4.6 million as compared to $36.1 million for the same period in 2008. There was a net loss of $21.3 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to a net loss of $3.2 million for the first quarter of 2008.
Farah maintains Obama has not proved he is constitutionally eligible to serve as president as a “natural born citizen, and suggests only the release of his long-form birth certificate showing the hospital of his birth, attending physician and other details can conclusively meet that test. Obama’s presidential campaign released to select news organizations only what is known as a “certification of live birth,” a document obtainable in Hawaii in 1961 by Americans actually born outside the country.
The billboard campaign followed one launched months earlier to collect the names on an electronic petition demanding accountability and transparency on the issue. So far, that petition has gathered nearly 400,000 names.
The campaign got a boost recently when WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asked Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, why the president wouldn’t release his birth certificate. Gibbs’ response was covered live on C-SPAN and by Fox News Channel and others – excluding CBS.
It was the first time any member of the press corps has publicly asked a member of the administration a question directly related to Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office as a “natural born citizen.”
Birth certificate question being raised in Ball, La.
Farah points out that congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” but no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.
Both the petition and the billboard campaign are part of what Farah calls an independent “truth and transparency campaign.”
Many have asked why Obama’s name is not included in the billboard. Farah said the matter was carefully considered.
“There are several reasons we chose the message: ‘Where’s the birth certificate?’” he explained. “There is only one birth certificate controversy in this country today – despite the near-total absence of this issue from coverage in the non-WND media. This is a grass-roots issue that resonates around the country, as our own online petition with nearly 400,000 signers suggests. In addition, I like the simplicity of the message. I like the fact that the message will cause some people to ask themselves or others about the meaning of the message. It will stir curiosity. It will create a buzz. I’m assuming when these billboards are springing up all over the country, it might even make some in the news media curious. And there’s one more factor that persuaded me this was the way to go.
“Come 2012, campaign laws will pose restrictions on political advertising mentioning the names of presidential candidates. This one clearly doesn’t. I would like to see the federal government make the case that this is somehow a political ad,” he said.
Further, Farah said, the reaction to the campaign by CBS and Lamar makes the point about how squeamish major media outlets are about questioning powerful political leaders – especially those with whom they agree.
“Imagine the problems we’d have finding billboard space if Obama’s image or name was part of the message,” he said. “CBS and Lamar are afraid of four innocent words!”
Farah said the campaign was born of frustration with timid elected officials in Washington, corrupt judges around the country and a news media that show a stunning lack of curiosity about the most basic facts of Obama’s background – especially how it relates to constitutional eligibility for the highest office in the land.
“As Obama transforms this country from self-governing constitutional republic to one governed by a central ruling elite, the simple fact remains that no controlling legal authority has established that he is indeed a ‘natural born citizen’ as the Constitution requires,” Farah said. “Obama’s promises of transparency have become a bad joke as he continues to hide simple, innocuous documents like his birth certificate and his student records.”
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