Montana state Rep. Bob Wagner is proposing legislation that would require candidates for president to document their constitutional eligibility in his state, but his plan would take the controversy one step beyond other state proposals.
His outline would set in state law protections for the taxpayers of Montana to prevent them from being billed for “unnecessary expense and litigation” involving the failure of “federal election officials” to do their duty.
“There should be no question after the fact as to the qualifications [of a president],” he told WND. “The state of Montana needs to have [legal] grounds to sue for damages for the cost of litigation.”
Montana is not the first state to consider acting on the issue of the eligibility of presidential candidates, in light of the fact that Barack Obama’s qualifications under the Constitution’s eligibility requirements have yet to be documented.
Several states, including Montana, considered such plans last year, but they largely were defeated by the exercise of political influence, not by votes.
This year WND already has reported that efforts are under way in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas for similar plans, with Arizona is likely to be in on the campaign.
Wagner’s legislation cites the Constitution’s requirement that the president hold “natural born citizenship” and the fact that the “military sons and daughters of the people of Montana and all civil servants to the people of Montana are required by oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and Montana against enemies foreign and domestic.”
But there are estimates of up to $2 million being spent on Obama’s defense against eligibility lawsuits. There have been dozens of them and some have been running for more than two years. So Wagner goes a step beyond.
“Whereas, it would seem only right and just to positively certify eligibility for presidential and congressional office at the federal level; and whereas, it is apparent that the federal authority is negligent in the matter; therefore, the responsibility falls upon the state; and whereas, this act would safeguard the people of Montana from unnecessary expense and litigation and the possibility that federal election officials fail in their duty and would ensure that the State of Montana remains true to the Constitution,” says his proposed legislation.
“By evidence of the fact that we have this litigation, and this … concealment brings suspicions on an issue,” he told WND. “There should be no suspicion. It should be open and clear and no doubt.”
WND has reported that besides Obama’s birth records, he has kept from the public documentation including his kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, Illinois State Bar Association records, baptism records and his adoption records.
“This issue of concealing is just, quite frankly, a dishonest act in my estimation, and I feel very compelled that our servicemen and woman have every right to be protected,” Wagner said.
He said taxpayer funding of the defense is such cases is “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I think taxpayers are getting ripped off and they have a right to be compensated,” he said.
Other proposals that are being considered include:
In Pennsylvania, there was excitement over the GOP majority of both houses of the state legislature as well as the governor’s office.
Assemblyman Daryl Metcalfe told WND he is working on a proposal that would demand documentation of constitutional eligibility.
He described it as a “problem” that there has been no established procedure for making sure that presidential candidates meet the Constitution’s requirements for age, residency and being a “natural born citizen.”
“We hope we would be able to pass this legislation and put it into law before the next session,” he said.
He said any one of the states imposing such a requirement would be effective in solving his concerns.
“I think the public relations nightmare that would ensue if any candidate would thumb their noses at a single state would torpedo their campaign,” he told WND.
Rep. Mark Hatfield has confirmed to WND that he will have a similar proposal pending.
He had introduced the legislation at the end of last year’s session to put fellow lawmakers on alert that the issue was coming.
“I do plan to reintroduce the bill,” he told WND. “We’ll move forward with trying to get it before a committee.”
In Georgia, Republicans hold majorities in both house of the legislature as well as “every constitutional statewide office,” he noted.
“I would be optimistic that we can [adopt the legislation],” he said.
Hatfield said if only one or two states adopt such requirements, it readily will be apparent whether a candidate has issues with eligibility documentation or not. And while he noted a president could win a race without support from a specific state, a failure to qualify on the ballot “would give voters in other states pause, about whether or not a candidate is in fact qualified,” he said.
“My goal is to make sure any person that aspires to be president meets the constitutional requirements,” he said. “This is a first step in that direction.”
It was last session when the Arizona House of Representatives adopted a provision that would have required documentation of eligibility from presidential candidates, but the measure died through the inaction of the state Senate in the closing days of the session.
Sponsor Rep. Judy Burges told WND at the time that her plan would be renewed this session.
His effort was the first wave of a surging tide of developing questions that could be a hurdle to a second term for Obama, who escaped such demands last year when the Arizona Senate failed to act on a similar plan after the House approved it.
Berman’s legislation, House Bill 295, is brief and simple:
It would add to the state election code the provision: “The secretary of state may not certify the name of a candidate for president or vice-president unless the candidate has presented the candidate’s original birth certificate indicating that the person is a natural-born United States citizen.”
It includes an effective date of Sept. 1, 2011, in time for 2012 presidential campaigning.
State Rep. Leo Berman
Berman told WND he’s seen neither evidence nor indication that Obama qualifies under the Constitution’s requirement that a president be a “natural-born citizen,” a requirement not imposed on most other federal officers.
“If the federal government is not going to vet these people, like they vetted John McCain, we’ll do it in our state,” he said.
He noted the Senate’s investigation into McCain because of the Republican senator’s birth in Panama to military parents.
Berman also said there will be pressure on any lawmaker who opposes the bill, since voters would wonder why they wouldn’t want such basic data about a president revealed. And he said even if one state adopts the requirement, there will be national implications, because other states would be alerted to a possible problem.
“If Obama is going to run for re-election in 2012, he’ll have to show our secretary of state his birth certificate and prove he’s a natural-born citizen,” he said. “This is going to be significant.”
Berman said he’s convinced there are problems with Obama’s eligibility, or else his handlers would not be so persistent in keeping the information concealed.
A year ago, polls indicated that roughly half of American voters were aware of a dispute over Obama’s eligibility. Recent polls, however, by organizations including CNN, show that roughly six in 10 American voters hold serious doubts that Obama is eligible under the Constitution’s demands.
The Texas House is expected to be dominated by the GOP, with a roughly 2-1 margin, and Republicans will hold probably 19 of the 31 seats in the state Senate. The governor’s office is Republican.
Other state plans also might be in the works but unannounced yet. Officials with the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures said they were not tracking bills in development. Their monitoring will begin after the proposals formally are submitted, they said.
Last year, several other states listened to proposals that could have had an impact on eligibility documentation. In New Hampshire, officials wanted to require candidates to meet the “qualifications contained in the U.S. Constitution.” In Oklahoma, lawmakers heard a plan to let voters decide the issue, and in South Carolina, the plan was to prevent candidates from being on the ballot unless “that person shows conclusive evidence that he is a legal citizen of the United States.”
Further, several other states discussed requirements for candidates, but they did not specifically address the Article 2, Section 1 constitutional compliance, so it’s unclear whether they would have addressed Obama’s situation.
There also was, during the last Congress, Rep. Bill Posey’s bill at the federal level.
Posey’s H.R. 1503 stated:
“To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution.”
The bill also provided:
“Congress finds that under … the Constitution of the United States, in order to be eligible to serve as President, an individual must be a natural born citizen of the United States who has attained the age of 35 years and has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years.”
It had more than a dozen sponsors, and while it died at the end of the last Congress, there are hopes the GOP majority in the House this year will move such a plan forward.
tens of thousands of others who already have signed a petition to state
lawmakers asking them to make sure the next president of the United
States qualifies under the Constitution’s eligibility requirements.
There have been dozens of lawsuits and challenges over the fact that Obama’s eligibility never has been documented. The “Certification of Live Birth” his campaign posted online is a document that Hawaii is a document that has made available to those not born in the state.
The controversy stems from the Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, which states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
The challenges to Obama’s eligibility allege he does not qualify because he was not born in Hawaii in 1961 as he claims, or that he fails to qualify because he was a dual citizen, through his father, of the U.S. and the United Kingdom when he was born and the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens from eligibility.
There are several cases still pending before the courts over Obama’s eligibility, including some that are scheduled to be discussed by the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Others remain pending at the appellate level.
Those cases, however, almost all have been facing hurdles created by the courts’ interpretation of “standing,” meaning someone who is being or could be harmed by the situation. The courts have decided almost unanimously that an individual taxpayer faces no damages different from other taxpayers, therefore doesn’t have standing. Judges even have ruled that other presidential candidates are in that position.
The result is that none of the court cases to date has reached the level of discovery, through which Obama’s birth documentation could be brought into court.
A petition that has been launched by WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah asks that state lawmakers do their duty in making sure the next presidential election will feature candidates whose eligibility has been documented.
Tens of thousands already have signed on.
“What we need are hundreds of thousands of Americans endorsing this strategy on the petition – encouraging more action by state officials before the 2012 election. Imagine if just one or two states adopt such measures before 2012. Obama will be forced to comply with those state regulations or forgo any effort to get on the ballot for re-election. Can Obama run and win without getting on all 50 state ballots? I don’t think so,” he said.
For 18 months, Farah has been one of the few national figures who has steadfastly pushed the issue of eligibility, despite ridicule, name-calling and ostracism at the hands of most of his colleagues. To date, in addition to the earlier petition, he has:
- erected billboards around the country demanding, “Where’s the birth certificate?”:
- produced a 40-page special report on the subject;
- produced a 60-minute documentary video primer on the issue;
- manufactured yard and rally signs to bring attention to the topic;
- pledged to donate at least $15,000 to any hospital in Hawaii or anywhere else that provides proof Obama was born there and given you an opportunity to raise the amount;
- created a line of T-shirts you can wear to appearances by the president to raise visibility of the issue;
- created a fund to which you can donate to further the kind of investigative reporting into this matter only this company has performed over the last two years;
- launched a line of postcards you can use to keep the issue alive;
- distributed thousands of bumper stickers asking, “Where’s the birth certificate?”
Farah says all those campaigns are continuing.
“Obama may be able to continue showing contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law for the next two years, as he has demonstrated his willingness to do in his first year in office,” he wrote in a column. “However, a day of reckoning is coming. Even if only one significant state, with a sizable Electoral College count, decides a candidate for election or re-election has failed to prove his or her eligibility, that makes it nearly impossible for the candidate to win. It doesn’t take all 50 states complying with the law to be effective.”
If you are a member of the media and would like to interview Joseph Farah about this campaign, e-mail WND.